Hot off the presses, #CryptoSmartEsq News-Issue 6 (5/14/2018) Facebook crypto, Winklevoss patent & more

By Professor Tonya M. Evans

Welcome to this week’s CryptoSmartEsq News, my carefully curated list of current legal issues and events in blockchain and crypto. 

If you’re new to this exciting, fast-developing space, check out the introductory video in the first CryptoSmartEsq news post. Follow me on Twitter at @CryptoSmartEsq (my blockchain and crypto-focused feed) and @IPProfEvans (my intellectual property-focused feed) and #EvansontheBlock for daily legal bits & bytes. Affiliate links noted with $.

Leave a comment and tweet me your news items.

Top Story

Facebook is “very serious” about launching its own cryptocurrency, according to a report from Cheddar. It’s not the first time the idea of a Facebook coin has been floated, but the plans take on some greater meaning in light of Facebook’s recently reshuffled executive structure and newly formed blockchain group. [CNBC.com: read more …]

Intellectual Property

Winklevoss Brothers Win Crypto Exchange Patent

Winklevoss IP, the company owned by Gemini founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has been awarded with a patent claim that aims to settle exchange traded products (ETPs) holding cryptocurrencies.

The company outlined a system that can execute transactions for ETPs holding cryptocurrencies “such as bitcoins … ripple, dogecoins … ether” as well as BBQCoin, among others, according to patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday. The company first filed the application in December of last year.

[Read more at CoinDesk.com]

ODEM Files Patents on Its Blockchain-based Education Marketplace

ODEM, creator of the world’s first On-Demand Education Marketplace, has filed a provisional U.S. patent application on two critical components of its blockchain-based education platform.

ODEM and Dr. Adel ElMessiry, the company’s chief technology mentor, are asserting their ownership rights to the platform’s system of staking, or registering for, academic programs as well as unique design aspects of the ODEM Platform’s digital token model.

[Read more at PRNewsWire.com …]

Law & Government

Bermuda’s Blockchain Strategy Goes Beyond Just Winning New Business

Bermuda is one of several small territories and microstates striving to leverage their nimble governments to attract blockchain and crypto businesses by creating regulatory certainty where other, larger governments have failed to deliver thus far. Liechtenstein, Malta, Gibraltar and, most recently, San Marino have joined the race alongside Bermuda, all offering proposals – and in some cases formal legislation – that promise “comprehensive blockchain legislation.”

[Read more at CoinDesk.com …]

Australian Government Budget injects $700K for Blockchain Research

The government of Australia has allocated AUD $700,000 (approx. $520,000) from its federal budget to its Digital Transformation Agency to research blockchain applications in government services.

Announced as a part of its 2018-19 federal budget, the government will use the funds from the Agency’s existing resources over the next four years.

An excerpt from the Budget document reads:

The Government will provide $0.7 million in 2018-19 for the Digital Transformation agency to investigate areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for Government services.

[Read more at CCN.com …]

Papua New Guinea is the Newest Kid on the Deregulated Economic Block(chain)

Papua New Guinea, a small nation in the Pacific island region of Asia, is the newest country to offer economic freedoms and government support for blockchain companies looking to conduct token offerings. It will join Singapore, Malta, Switzerland, The Cayman Islands, Lichtenstein, and other smaller countries as one of the premier crypto-friendly countries in the world.

[Read more at CoinCentral.com …]

‘An Epic Fail’: Colorado Blockchain Bill Hits the Skids

The bill would have exempted certain digital currencies from being regulated as securities under the Colorado Securities Act.

Colorado’s blockchain bill, House Bill 1426, would have also been a boon for innovation in the state was making its way through the State Assembly but got derailed abruptly on Wednesday in a vote.

HB 1426 was all but on its way to the governor’s desk after seemingly passing both the House and Senate votes. But the approval of the bill by the Senate was overturned when in a final vote a couple of state senators had a change of heart. The final tally in the third reading of the bill was 17 yea votes and 18 nay votes.

[Read more at CCN.com …]

Cases

Next issue

Education

Next issue

Events

List of 2018 Events (CoinDesk.com)

Working Groups, Committees, & Orgs


Signup for Coinbase to receive $10 in $BTC after you buy or sell $100 worth of $BTC

[previous issue of CryptoSmartEsq News]

“If you die before you post”: A brief look at social media immortality

“Facebook announced a new policy allowing an executor to manage an account once a user has died. Up until now, Facebook only allowed an account to be “memorialized,” meaning it could still be viewed, but not edited or managed.” USAToday.com

This change in the Facebook Terms of Use is long overdue. But there are other postmortem opportunities (??) that present interesting (if not eerie) legal, moral and ethical questions. Food for thought for my Wills & Trusts class: Can the following service (IfIDie.net) provide a valid vehicle for testamentary disposition of assets under the UPC? Nevada’s Probate Code? ~ Professor Evans

Facebook, Zuckerberg to Face a Jury over rights to “Timeline” trademark issue

Source: Bloomberg.com

 

Credit: Involver.com

Facebook Inc. (FB) (FB), owner of the world’s largest social-networking service, lost bid to end a trademark infringement lawsuit over its use of “timeline” and related terms.

Timelines Inc. started a Web site in 2009 that lets users create chronologies tracing historical events such as wars, sporting events and advances in science. It sued Facebook for infringement and unfair competition in September 2011, a week after the social-network announced it was adding a “timeline” feature to its user pages.

Facebook counter-sued, claiming Timelines’ registered marks weren’t sufficiently distinctive to warrant protection and asking for judgments of non-infringement and a cancellation of the registrations.

Read the full article about Facebook Timeline Trademark battle at Bloomberg.com

Is “yes” to Instagram a “no” to Facebook privacy?

Source: MSNBC Technology [Helen A.S. Popkin]

People are so steamed up about Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram that they are vowing to purge their smartphones of the old-timey photo sharing app.

“Facebook,” “Instagram,” and “uninstall” were the three words littering Twitter — the place where everyone posts their Instagram images — soon after news of the deal broke on Monday. 

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of FB, touted the many benefits of the acquisition. But less information was forthcoming about how location privacy would be handled (and by less I mean none).

Read the complete article about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and what it means for FB user privacy.

Read the announcement posted by Instagram.

Has Facebook secured the right to exclusive use of “Book” thru its TOU?

Source: Lexology.com

Facebook login page

While FB may never secure a trademark on the word “book”, it appears to be attempting to secure its market position through its terms of use.

“Facebook has previously filed over 80 trademark applications on variations of its name and other terms such as “POKE”, “WALL” and “LIKE”. Facebook now seems to be attempting to claim some level of ownership/protection over the word “book” as well.

In a recent revision to Facebook’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” which is the agreement all users must accept when accessing Facebook, language was inserted which states (emphasis added) “[y]ou will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.”

Read the full article about Facebook’s trademark claims to “book”

Post-Mortem Rights in Social Networking? Is Your Facebook Page Part of Your Estate

I recently saw this issue discussed on Tamron Hall’s MSNBC Show, News Nation [3/19/2012]. Hall interviewed Karen Williams, mother of a deceased teen who spent two years battling Facebook for access to her son’s FB page.

“I wanted full and unobstructed access, and they balked at that,” said Williams, recalling her son’s death in 2005. “It was heartbreaking. I was a parent grasping at straws to get anything I could get.” [Source: MICHAEL AVOK, Associated Press]

It raises an interesting legal question. Can contributions (literary, artistic and otherwise) to a social networking environment become the property of your survivors when you die? Are the contributions considered a “digital estate”?

At least that is the question theoretically. But other legal issues must be considered as well; namely contract law under a social networking site’s terms of use and privacy policy (which users agree to at sign up) and privacy concerns of the networked community.

Now lawmakers and attorneys in at least two states are considering proposals that would require Facebook and other social networks to grant access to loved ones when a family member dies, essentially making the site contents part of a person’s digital estate.

Read the full article about Karen Williams and access to her son’s Facebook account and let me know what you think.

What do you think?

When Social Networking Goes Wrong, Personally and Professionally

As reported by LearnVest.com:

Great article on the 10 social media blunders that can hurt your career. My rule of thumb? “Take 10 before you send.” Ten breaths, ten seconds, ten laps. Whatever you need to ensure that you fully intend to say what is in your tweet, text, post, or e-mail.

“You probably know all the ways social media can help you professionally. You can demonstrate your expertise on a topic using Twitter, network your way to a new job using LinkedIn and keep old connections fresh on Facebook.

But social media can also have a darker side.”

Read the full article about social networking blunders that hurt your career.