• Blockstream Joins Forces with Square in Crypto Open Patent Alliance

  • Blockstream, a Bitcoin infrastructure business, has joined the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a day after Square formed the non-profit organization.

    COPA, according to its official website, intends to avoid “patent lockups” of cryptocurrency technologies, which may prohibit smaller enterprises from capitalizing on technological breakthroughs, impeding growth and innovation in emerging cryptocurrency technologies.

    To ensure that the innovations can be used without fear of litigation, the alliance compels all members to sign a legally enforceable vow to make their cryptocurrency patents openly available and not to use them against anyone, except for defense grounds. Members must also contribute all of their cryptocurrency patents to a patent pool that other members can utilize defensively.

    An Anti-Patent Troll Alliance

    A patent is a right issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to an inventor for a set length of time. During the life of the patent, the inventor can block anyone from creating, selling, or utilizing their innovation.

    While the goal of patents is to encourage innovators to share inventions without fear of being copied, patents have historically been abused and exploited aggressively. One way this has shown itself is in the form of patent trolling, which includes a company accumulating patents in order to profit from licensing or litigation.

    Patent trolling has become such a widespread problem that a recent research found that Non-Practicing Entities, or trolls, filed about 90% of patent cases in the tech sector.

    COPA seeks to construct a “collective shield of patents” through its patent library, allowing members to “deter and fight against patent aggressors.” Prospective members are not need to have their own patents in order to join the alliance.

    Blockstream CSO Samson Mow said that “in an ideal world, patent law would be reformed, but unfortunately it is very difficult to invalidate patents and the best defense against patent abuse is to patent and make technology available under defensive IP schemes – failing to do so would jeopardize Bitcoin development.” Blockstream’s patents were filed for this defensive reason and have always been available to the public under our patent pledge. We anticipate that by collaborating with Square and having more companies contribute further resources, our DPL effort will be able to grow. We should be able to form a strong partnership to keep Bitcoin developments accessible to all.”

    Blockstream Provides Several Patents to COPA’s Shared Pool

    Blockstream is the first startup to announce a partnership with Square and an interest in working with the COPA board. With an established defensive patent strategy that was unveiled in 2016, the company is now doubling down on its commitment by joining the alliance.

    The patents covering Confidential Transactions, Sidechains, Confidential Assets, HSM Peg-Proofs, and Confidential Cross-chain Swaps will be added to the shared patent pool by Blockstream.

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