Articles Posted in Distributed Ledger

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The journey by which the blockchain and its underlying distributed ledger technology (DLT) becomes an everyday aspect of doing business is one of a thousand small steps, many of them legislative and regulatory. In “California’s New Law on Corporate Blockchain Use,” colleagues Sara J. O’Connell and Riaz A. Karamali examine California’s recently signed SB-838, which amends Cal. Corp. Code § 204 (General Corporation Law) and Cal. Corp. Code § 2603 (Social Purpose Corporation Act) to allow certain corporations to use blockchain technology for certain corporate records. (Legislation triggering the formation of a “blockchain working group” that will evaluate the risks and legal implications associated with the use of the technology by state government and California-based businesses was also signed into law.)

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iStock-873055760-ip-dlt-blockchain-c-300x288As we approach 2020, distributed ledger technologies (DLT) appear likely to have a far-reaching, comprehensive impact on our global economy. But core components of that economy—intellectual property rights in particular—sit in tension with DLT. Copyright owners learned this lesson with the advent of BitTorrent. Patent owners will face similar threats from DLT-based computing platforms executing programs referred to as “smart contracts.” To date, less than 500 U.S. patents have issued with the term “blockchain” in a claim, and none appear to have been litigated. As such, many nuances of DLT patent enforcement have not yet manifested. Nonetheless, even a cursory review of current case law reveals the road to a decentralized utopia is laden with patent-law potholes.

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