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Blockchains and cryptocurrencies have been big news. More than $2.6 billion has been raised in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), and bitcoin volatility has made headlines. The hype surrounding bitcoin and ICOs sometimes threatens to obscure the promise of the underlying technology, though; to many, “blockchain” may mean nothing more than money laundering and darknets. But blockchains are much more than cryptocurrencies. They and related technologies promise new, transformative solutions to problems of trust, control, and distribution of data. Recognizing the promise of blockchain technology, many continue to invest heavily in blockchain-related technologies and their applications. The investments lead to innovation and, as a corollary, the desire to protect the innovation to get a return on the investments.
Patents are traditionally looked to as a way to protect innovation. But patenting blockchains in the U.S. often raises issues of patent eligibility that have taken on new importance following the Supreme Court’s decisions in Mayo, Alice, and other cases. These issues can be particularly acute considering how many applications of blockchains relate to FinTech or improvements to business practices. Moreover, some popular blockchain technologies and applications derive much of their appeal from being nonproprietary, so a patent may not always be the right tool.
What You Will Learn
This program covers issues that come up when considering blockchain patents. It reviews the basics: the core technologies, main applications, and emerging trends. It discusses the law of patent-eligibility in the U.S. and internationally, and what those laws mean for protecting blockchain-related inventions. Trends in allowances at the USPTO will be explored in detail. The program will explore strategic issues, including considerations that make patents more appropriate for some kinds of blockchain-related inventions than others.
Program Level: Overview.
Intended Audience: This program is designed for both patent practitioners and non-practitioners. In addition, law firm attorneys and in-house counsel who are not patent practitioners but need to counsel clients developing blockchain technologies and their applications, patent practitioners who wish to deepen their understanding of the issues these technologies raise, and other allied professionals who need to learn or get up to speed on the latest developments regarding patenting blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, should attend this program.
Prerequisites: A fundamental understanding of the core technologies, main applications and emerging trends in blockchains and cryptocurrencies, the law of patent-eligibility in the U.S. and internationally and how those laws protect blockchain-related inventions, trends in allowances at the USPTO, and issues and considerations that make patents more appropriate for some kinds of blockchain-related inventions than others.
Advanced Preparation: None.