Blockchain, Crypto & Smart Contracts: What they are & what they mean for IP

© 2018 Tonya M. Evans

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Recently, I delivered two presentations in Bangkok, Thailand about the intellectual property implications of blockchain technology. The first was an internal preso for the prominent Southeast Asian law firm of Tilleke & Gibbins, and the second was for the Licensing Executives Society-Thailand Conference.

In each preso, I engaged attendees (live and via video conference) in a macro-level exploration of blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts to clarify what this relatively new disruptive, empowering ecosystem is, what it means for our collective future as attorneys, corporate leaders, startup founders and entrepreneurs, and its implications in intellectual property law.

Recently, Darts-IP.com published an article I wrote titled IP + Blockchain: A Primer based on some of the information I shared in Bangkok.

I could spend all day every day falling down the proverbial rabbit hole of information about blockchain. There is literally breaking blockchain and cryptocurrency news every minute, if Coindesk’s website and twitter feed are any indication. Each bit and byte of information leads to more information (and misinformation), FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt), FOMO (fear of missing out), and speculation about all of the potential pitfalls and opportunities in this new technology frontier. So it’s difficult for most people to figure out where to begin. If this describes you, you’re not alone and you’ve come to the right place! Read on.

You probably have questions (or you wouldn’t be reading this post). Lots of them. The first may very well be where to begin to get a handle on the power and promise of blockchain. Everyone should have some baseline understanding. But lawyers, in particular, must achieve basic technological competence in this space to be well positioned to help clients solve problems. Given my background and expertise, I am particularly interested in the intellectual property issues triggered by blockchain’s rise in mainstream adoption as research & development use cases transition into full implementation and refinement.

In future posts, I will share trends and current events in the blockchain ecosystem that raise copyright, patent, and trademark issues. Follow me on Twitter @IPProfEvans for breaking IP-related blockchain and crypto news. Below are some blockchain basics that I cover more substantively in IP + Blockchain: A Primer and some additional resources about blockchain, crypto, and smart contracts.

So … what is Blockchain? [Updated excerpt from IP + Blockchain: A Primer Continue reading “Blockchain, Crypto & Smart Contracts: What they are & what they mean for IP”

The countdown is on to RegisterRight!: The ABCs of Protecting Your IP @ #SxSW 2018

** Click here to VOTE UP my SXSW 2019 Proposals**

 

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018 9:30 AM-11:30 AM (Central)

Fairmont Hotel Iris Room, 101 Red River, Austin TX 78701

RSVP or catch the Twitter Live Stream @ #RegisterRight

#RegisterRight

Creating a song, script, app, invention or business is just the beginning of any creative’s journey. Too often that can also be the end of the road. Because when creatives focus solely on the creative process without adequately protecting their intellectual property, they leave their copyright, trademark, and patent rights at risk or forever lost altogether. The rules are complex and confusing. This workshop demystifies “the big three” types intellectual property (copyright, trademark, patent) and lays out the specific steps every creative needs to take to protect their IP rights.

Specifically, this workshop:

  • Offers straightforward, clear, and concise definitions and explanations about IP rights
  • Provides a detailed roadmap through the critical first steps of identifying and registering IP rights
  • Details concrete steps creatives and inventors can take to register a copyright, trademark, and patent
  • Explains how startups can avoid intellectual property disputes and the benefits of timely registration
  • Explains how to create a trademark portfolio that doesn’t break the bank
  • Outlines best practices when enforcing copyright, trademark, and patent rights against infringers
  • Covers copyright transfer termination and how to reclaim your copyright after an assignment or license

Join us for the Twitter Live Stream at #RegisterRight & @IPProfEvans

[SxSW-RegisterRight summary deck]

Have a question? Post it in the comments section!

Professor Evans travels to Bangkok to discuss IP implications of Blockchain

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Part of a lawyer’s professional competence includes technological competence. Therefore, every lawyer should have a basic understanding of the business and legal implications of the blockchain and its varied and various use cases.

To that end, I will present an overview of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts at the law offices of Tilleke & Gibbins (Bangkok, Thailand) on January 31, 2018 and at the Annual Meeting of Licensing Executives Society (LES)-Thailand on February 1, 2018.  This presentation is intended to introduce attorneys of all practice areas to the essential information every lawyer should know about this emerging, global technology.

Ready? Set? Disrupt!

Blockchain technology is poised to disrupt law and business on a global scale in ways neither rivaled nor contemplated since the advent of the Internet. This talk will include definitions of key terminology, an explanation of the two most prominent use cases within this ecosystem (cryptocurrency and smart contracts), as well as intellectual property issues, current events, and likely blockchain trends in 2018.

Intellectual property issues and profit disparities for viral social media “stars” @ SxSW

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Join me and this extraordinary panel of experts, Michael D. Armstrong (Viacom), Devin Johnson (Uninterrupted), and panel organizer, Simone Bresi-Ando (I’mPOSSIBLE) at SxSW on Tuesday March 14th at 11 AM: Gentrifying Genius: Urban Creators Stripped Bare.

The panel will explore themes around The Fader’s article: “Black Teens Are Breaking The Internet And Seeing None Of The Profits” in a solutions-focused manner that will not only discuss the ecosystem that maintains the inequalities but also ways to protect and monetize their creative genius on social media.

Simone Bresi-Ando of I’mPOSSIBLE explains:

Black and brown youth are missing out on fruitful and ultimately life changing opportunities and rewards from their intellectual property which remains wildly popular but unpaid and uncredited.

Intellectual Property and Social Media

thumbnail_ImP x SxSW 2017 panelist promo INSTAGRAM graphic PROF TONYA EVANSI will adjust the frame of reference by explaining what intellectual property is, how rights are created, what rights creators control and what they give up when they opt-in to social media platforms, and how creators of color, in particular, can better navigate disparities in what I call the “post-to-profit” pipeline.

This disparity, of course, is not new. Similar misappropriation pervades America’s history with creators of color. In the cinematic suspense phenomenon Get Out, Jordan Peele goes a step further beyond cultural appropriation to examine the ultimate misappropriation of black bodies themselves, genius and all.

This will be a rich, engaging, dynamic conversation. Hope to see you there!

Prof. Evans to present WIP at 10th Annual Lutie Lytle Conference

Professor Evans will present her latest work-in-progress, Safer Harbor from Statutory Damages for Mea Culpa Infringers: Remixing the DOC White Paper, at the 2016 Tenth Annual Lutie Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop.

The paper, slated for fall placement,  titled “Safer Harbor” from Statutory Damages for Mea Culpa Infringers: Remixing the DOC White Paper, is a follow up to her article, Safe Harbor for Innocent Infringers in the 21st Century. The former article argued that under certain circumstances, “innocent” users should be protected from liability in the same way that Internet Service Providers are protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provisions. In Safer Harbor, Professor Evans approaches the same topic from the damages-instead of the liability-phase.

In Safer Harbor, Professor Evans offers a legislative fix to the statutory damages section that would inject greater balance, fairness and uniformity into the damages assessment.

The Department of Commerce‘s Internet Policy Task Force recently released its much-anticipated report on statutory damages, remixes, and the first sale doctrine. The report, titled White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory DamagesCopyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy (The IPTF Report), recommended numerous important and long overdue changes to the Copyright Act.

In light the IPTF Report, Professor Evans analyzes and incorporates the Report’s findings and recommendations against the backdrop of her own recommended fixes to copyright law.

About the Lutie Lytle Conference

The Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop (the “Lytle Workshop”) is an annual gathering of current and aspiring black women law faculty. While the primary focus is on legal scholarship, this event is important for networking, bonding, and getting refreshed. Read more about the PDF iconHistory of the Program. Since the Workshop began, its participants have published more than 29 books, 44 book chapters, and 500 articles (PDF iconbibliography of works authored by workshop attendees as of 2016).

The 2016 gathering, which will be the historic and commemorative 10thAnnual Workshop, will be hosted by the University of Iowa College of Law on July 7-10, 2016, in Iowa City. A writing retreat will take place before and after the main Workshop on July 6-7 and 10-12, 2016. [More information …]

 

Prof. Evans to moderate NBA IP Law Review CLE webinar Wed 6/8

I invite you to register for Wednesday’s webinar, hosted by the NBA IP Law Section. Registration is free for all IP Section members, and $30 for non-members.

IP Law Review – A Survey of Recent Developments in Patent, Trademark, and Trade Secret Law.

Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Time: 1:00pm to 2:30pm EDT

Follow live tweet at #NBAIPLaw

Presenters:

  • Tonya Evans (Widener University Commonwealth Law School) – Moderator
  • Darrell Mottley (Banner Witcoff)
  • Shontavia Johnson (Drake University Law School)
  • Kevin Jordan (JP Morgan Chase)

Summary – Our panelists will discuss a variety of hot topics and recent developments in patent, trademark, and trade secret law, including:

  • The internet of things as an emerging technology/industry, and related IP and regulatory issues
  • Intersection between the First Amendment and Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act regarding registration of immoral, scandalous, or disparaging trademarks, including the impact of trademark cases
  • Overview of trade secret law and its viability as an alternative means of IP protection

CLE Info: The NBA IP Law Section is looking into obtaining CLE accreditation in the following jurisdictions: CA, GA, IL, NY, TX, and VA. For questions regarding CLE accreditation, please contact Bill Barrow (wbarrow[at]mayerbrown.com).

Cost: This webinar is free for NBA IP Law Section members and costs $30 (plus processing fees) for non-members.

Register at:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nba-ip-law-section-intellectual-property-law-review-registration-25483682380

Professor Evans’ scholarship in line with DOC’s latest reccs re: copyright statutory damages, remixes

iptf_logosThe Department of Commerce‘s Internet Policy Task Force recently released its much-anticipated report on statutory damages, remixes, and the first sale doctrine. The report, titled White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory DamagesCopyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy (The IPTF Report), recommended numerous important and long overdue changes to the Copyright Act. Those recommendations focus on three key areas:

  1. the legal framework for the creation of remixes;
  2. the relevance and scope of the first sale doctrine in the digital environment; and
  3. the application of statutory damages in the context of individual file-sharers and secondary liability for large-scale online infringement. (p. iii, The IPTF Report).

The Task Force Report made three recommendations overall:

  1. To enact a new section 504 of the Copyright Act that lists factors for courts and juries to consider when determining the amount of a statutory damages award.
  2. To remove the “notice bar” to the Innocent Infringer “defense” and instead treat notice as merely a factor. This change is especially important to protect a good faith, mistaken user (who I refer to as a “mea culpa infringer” in Safe Harbor for the Innocent Infringer in the Digital Age).
  3. To give courts the discretion to assess statutory damages in ways other than a strict per-work basis in cases involving non-willful secondary liability for online services offering a large number of works.

I write primarily about the impact of new technologies and new forms of artistic expression on copyright law. Therefore, I am excited and encouraged to see that my assertions and recommendations in Safe Harbor for the Innocent Infringer in the Digital Age (50 Willamette L. Rev. 1 (2013)), Reverse Engineering IP  (17 Marquette Intell. Prop. L. Rev. 61 (2013)), and Sampling, Looping & Mashing … Oh MY! (21 Fordham Intell. Prop. Media & Ent. L.J. 843 (2011)), are consistent with the Task Force’s approach to these critical areas in need of substantive reform.

For example, in Safe Harbor for the Innocent Infringer in the Digital Age I explored the role of the innocent infringer archetype historically and in the digital age. I also highlighted the tension between a “20th century” copyright regime and “21st century” user expectations regarding generally accepted online uses of copyrighted materials. Those customary uses reflect the efficient use of digital technologies and the Internet. Finally, I offered a legislative fix in the form of “safe harbor” from liability for certain innocent infringers akin to the type of protection afforded online service providers.

In that article, I argued that such an exemption seems not only more efficient but also more just in the online environment where unwitting infringement for the average copyright consumer is far easier than ever to commit, extremely difficult to police, and often causes little, if any, real market harm.

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In a current work-in-progress titled “Safer Harbor” from Statutory Damages for Mea Culpa Infringers: Remixing the DOC White Paper, I approach the topic from the damages-instead of the liability-phase.

I offer a legislative fix to the statutory damages section that would inject greater balance, fairness and uniformity into the damages assessment. I began writing this article in 2014 but in light the IPTF Report, I intend to analyze and incorporate the Report’s findings and recommendations against the backdrop of my own recommended fixes to copyright law.