Evans explores IP rules & regs in cryptocurrency + blockchain law at Yahoo Finance Summit [livestream]

IP + BLOCKCHAIN @ #YahooAMS

Today Professor Evans explores the role of intellectual property (IP) in the blockchain space, given the reality that the value of IP is generally derived from exclusive, proprietary rights. However, so much of the blockchain ecosystem’s infrastructure is open-source (and necessarily so) due to the need for, and benefits of, collaboration and interoperability. In fact, some fantastic projects, like Linux’s HyperLedger Project, were initiated to promote and support an open-source environment to spur blockchain innovation.

Contrary to the open-source community norms, some decentralized app (dApp) developers building on top of blockchains like Ethereum via “smart contract” code (think, “if, then” self-executing agreement) and infrastructure projects like those created by the Ripple and Mobius teams may, instead, seek a completely or at least substantially proprietary advantage by securing, for example, patent protection.

But is robust IP protection contrary to the originalist principles of the O.B. “original blockchain”, aka the Bitcoin Blockchain? Do strong IP protections, which may increase the overall value of a company’s worth, slow down or speed up innovation in an industry that moves at a meteoric pace? Do innovative steps outpace the US examination and registration processes for copyright (3 to 11 months),  trademark (6 months to one year or longer), and patent (1 to 3 years)?

The bottom line is that navigating OSS licenses is challenging and, of course, implicates important legal and economic issues, especially related to patent (inventions) and copyright (creativity) because software is protectable by both IP regimes.

One industry response to ownership and bad actor regulation for patents (which could also be applied to copyright) is the work of the Chamber of Digital Commerce’s Blockchain Intellectual Property Council. IPWatchdog.com explains:

Aside from establishing a repository of blockchain-specific patent information, BIPC will be exploring various IP protection models that have worked in other sectors, such as: Non-aggression agreements – where industry players agree not to assert patents against each other; developing patent pools – where cross-licensing options are available to all pool participants; reducing inventory – where groups form (like the LOT Network) and the members agree not to sell patents without first granting a license to all group members.

Trademark registration is also an important tool to distinguish brand identity and raise consumer awareness. A trademark’s value can increase over time as the business reputation increases. Issues of consumer confusion, however, can cause harm. The Bitcoin (BTC) vs. Bitcoin Cash (BTH) confusion has left many an unwary person confused about the source of crypto. The consequences of transferring BTC to a BTH wallet means that Bitcoin is forever lost. So trademarks play a key role in avoiding consumer confusion, the primary test of trademark infringement. But with no central person or entity asserting ownership rights in this decentralized ecosystem, who is positioned to protect consumers?

Further, several crypto news outlets reported recently that a UK-based company registered BITCOIN as a trademark (for clothing, alcoholic & nonalcoholic drinks) & began issuing cease and desist letter to people like an Etsy store owner selling Bitcoin t-shirts. I covered this topic in a Twitter thread. If you’re wondering if this is illegal, the short answer is no. But that doesn’t mean industry leaders haven’t attempted to discourage this practice.

The BTC Foundation provided an important statement about the propriety of registering BITCOIN as a stand-alone trademark and provided stats as of January 2015 on the number registered marks around the world. For those, it is too late to oppose. It seems the US Patent & Trademark Office, however, is requiring registrants to disclaim the use of “BITCOIN” separately from, say, a mark like MILLY BITCOIN.

As you can see there are a lot of really important and interesting IP issues to consider with blockchain technology. Let’s talk about it.

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About #YahooAMS

Yahoo Finance presents All Markets Summit: Crypto — the latest in our series of All Markets Summit events produced by Yahoo Finance. This all-day livestream event will take place on June 14, 2018 in San Francisco at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center. Yahoo AMS: Crypto examines the global investment appetite for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and endeavors to answer some of the biggest questions surrounding these assets.

  • Should individual investors have crypto in their portfolio?
  • Is it a legitimate investment?
  • Will regulators impose stricter federal oversight?

This is Yahoo Finance’s second live cryptocurrency summit this year. Yahoo AMS: Crypto brings together influential entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, policy makers, and legal experts. Limited live studio audience seating available.

Yahoo AMS is presented in conjunction with CoinDesk.

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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

3D Printing vs. Intellectual Property Law?

Just as inkjet printers deposit drops of ink to create a document, 3-D printers lay down bits of plastic, metal, or other material to build an object. But as 3-D printers enter the consumer market, they may also fashion new challenges for intellectual property law.

Source: JDSupra Law News. Click here to read the full article about 3-D printing and new challenges to IP law.

Prof down! My injury, your gain. The most popular posts about intellectual property, revisited.

If you know me personally you probably know I’ve been going through quite an ordeal lately. Three weeks or so ago a wonderful game of tennis turned injury-laden for this aging (gracefully?) former collegiate and professional athlete.

I suffered a partial tear of my plantar fascia and was sidelined for two weeks before I could even get up and around on my own and at least return to my own city and home.

Physical therapy is just around the corner now that the acute pain and most swelling has subsided. Also just around the corner? A new sport!

Just posting a quick “check in” to assure you both my scholarship about intellectual property issues and my end of summer posts about current hot topics are “in progress”. So, my injury is your gain. I was sidelined long enough to enjoy substantial periods of rest AND to find significant pockets of productivity time in between.

Hope you’re enjoying a wonderfully restful and productive summer too. Many thanks for remaining plugged into ProfTonyaEvans.com. Check out some of my most popular posts from my archives:

Be well,

Prof. TE

Widener Law News: Prof. Evans delivers Primer on Copyright, Free Exchange, and the Web on WITF’s Radio Smart Talk

Headshot of Professor Tonya Evans
Credit: Leaping Lion

Just a quick note in case you missed the show on Wednesday “Copyright and the Free Exchange of Information”, the story is featured today at the law school Web site with quotes and a summary. After today, read the full Widener Law Web site article by clicking here.

The archived show is now available and you can catch it online via the WITF (NPR) feed or WITF via iTunes.

UPDATE: WITF Radio Smart Talk show on copyright, free exchange & the Web rescheduled 7/25 9AM

Credit: Clint M Chilcott 2008 (via shared photostream)

[See original post about this show, originally scheduled for 7/23/2012]

Many people share content they find on the Internet but are you doing it legally? How do you know for sure? Because, after all, something that is available on the Internet does not equal something freely available in the “public domain”, at least as defined by copyright law.

Get the answers to these and other questions in plain English from intellectual property and entertainment law expert Associate Professor Tonya M. Evans,  on WITF Radio Smart Talk, Wednesday, July 25th 9:00-10:00 AM Eastern (89.5 and 93.3, Central PA, USA and available via live stream).

You can also participate in the convo and submit your questions and comments by following @WITFnews and @LegalWritePub.

During the show you will:

  • Learn how to avoid infringing copyright in the online environment
  • Identify what’s considered fair use
  • Learn how to protect and share your own literary and artistic productions; and
  • Explore the free exchange of information debate

The discussion is based on Copyright Companion for Writers, by Tonya Evans.

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Click to listen to Radio Smart Talk LIVE!

NOTE: If you miss the LIVE broadcast:

Legal Resources for Writers from LegalWritePublications.com:

UPDATE: WITF Radio Smart Talk interview on copyright & the Internet postponed

Due to breaking news in the Penn State scandal and the NCAA presser, this morning’s interview on Radio Smart Talk (WITF) has been postponed and will be rescheduled. Please post your comments and questions about how copyright laws apply to and may be at odds with the free exchange of ideas in the new public commons known as the Internet.

I’ll make a note to address some of them during the interview.

Until then, here are some great resources in addition to our plain English legal reference guides, ebooks and teleclass audio downloads and our free e-Reports on various topics. One featured audio download directly on point for today’s topic is “Copyright for Writers on the Web”.

This topic is evergreen and ever-changing. So I look forward to the next opportunity to discuss it with you in the near future.

~ Prof. TE