Initial Coin Offerings Attract New Audience: Trial Lawyers – Bloomberg Big Law Business

By Jennifer Bennett    January 9, 2018

Federal and state regulators aren’t the only ones taking a closer look at initial coin offerings: so is the plaintiffs’ bar.

In the last month alone, class actions have targeted five ICOs, alleging they were unlawful sales of unregistered securities, and securities lawyers say more are sure to follow.

“The possibility of these types of lawsuits shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in the industry at this point. The SEC has been very vocal recently that it will deem most tokens or coins issued through ICOs to be securities under U.S. law,” Benjamin J.A. Sauter, a securities litigator at Kobre & Kim LLP told Bloomberg Law. “Companies selling new tokens or coins through ICOs to U.S. investors are taking a calculated risk.”

No federal court has addressed whether ICOs implicate securities laws and the question is still up for debate, Joshua Ashley Klayman, of counsel at Morrison Foerster LLP, told Bloomberg Law.

More at: Initial Coin Offerings Attract New Audience: Trial Lawyers – Bloomberg Big Law Business

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Blockchain: Health Care’s Next Great Disruptor? – National Law Review

By Lee A. Schneider    January 5, 2018

Blockchain is rapidly becoming the focus of conversations regarding health care disruption, and for good reason. What started out as a means for cryptocurrency is now making waves in a variety of industries, set to revolutionize how data is stored and shared.

The inability to easily and securely store and share data has long been a burden on the health system. Blockchain poses a solution to that through encryption and highly advanced technological assets which open the doors to health care innovation. Today we see blockchain being used with electronic health records (EHRs) so that a patient’s medical history is easily accessible to him/her, as well as his/her doctors, insurance providers, etc. It’s also providing the “how” in implementing value-based payment agreements, which link payment to performance of a drug or medical device. Blockchain is currently being used both in the private and public sectors, including the FDA and the CDC. While the full potential of this new technology is not yet known, the industry seems eager to find out.

Ahead of this year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, we sat down with Lee Schneider, our top blockchain thought leader, to talk specifically about how this new technology is revolutionizing (or has the potential to revolutionize) the health care space.

Q: In layman’s terms, what is blockchain and why is it a topic of such great interest right now, particularly when it comes to the health care industry?

A: Blockchain is a ledger technology that allows people to track digital assets. This is important because a digital asset can be copied an endless number of times. People call this the “double spend” problem. But if you can track each one with certainty, then digital commerce becomes possible because when you move the digital asset on the blockchain ledger, you are certain of its provenance.

More at: Blockchain: Health Care’s Next Great Disruptor? – National Law Review

Blockchain & Patent Requirements – National Law Review

By Safraz W. Ishmael    January 5, 2018

Last year’s spike in the valuation of bitcoin has much of the technology world focused on blockchain, the distributed database ledger technology behind bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies.  Lost behind the scenes, however, is a rush by some in the industry to patent inventions relating to the blockchain technology itself.  These moves come with controversy in an industry known for its culture of open-source practices.

Patenting blockchain technology is catching on.  According to a search of the Patent Office’s database, there have been over 50 U.S. patents issued relating to blockchain technology, almost all of them issuing over the last few years.  And there are many more such patents in the pipeline.  A search of U.S. patent applications shows that there are well over 500 published patent applications relating to the technology, and there are likely many more pending unpublished applications in the space.  While many of the patent filers appear to be smaller companies, interestingly, a significant number of the patent filers are from among the larger Fortune 500 companies, including from among the big banks.

More at: Blockchain & Patent Requirements – National Law Review

Blockchain Patents Might Soon Be Challenged – PYMNTS.com

By PYMNTS    December 20, 2017

Patent troll Erich Spangenberg, who is hated in Silicon Valley for challenging the patents on all sorts of technology, is eyeing the cryptocurrency market next.

Citing a recent blog by Spangenberg, CNBC reported news that he has created a new group to unlock the value in blockchain intellectual property, arguing that while the press is focused on bitcoin, another important story that gets less coverage is the technology that underpins it: blockchain.

The patent troll is amassing a treasure trove of blockchain patents that he can enforce as the distributed ledger technology takes off. Spangenberg has started a company dubbed IPwe that has 20 full-time employees and a team of consultants. They are tasked with applying “blockchain, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve patents,” Spangenberg wrote in the blog post. “It is a curious path how a collection of misfit trolls, geeks and wonks ended up here — but we are going to crush it and make a fortune.”

More at: Blockchain Patents Might Soon Be Challenged – PYMNTS.com

Blockchain and smart contracts: Pioneers of the energy frontier – International Business Times

By Christopher Burger    December 15, 2017

Digital payments, smart contracts, and data-backed task automation technologies are driving Germany’s energy transformation.

Blockchain is a distributed, digital transaction technology that allows for securely storing data and executing smart contracts in peer-to-peer networks (Swan, 2015, p. IX). This is potentially disruptive, as trusted intermediaries could become obsolete.

Banks and, more generally, the financial sector were the first ones to become aware of the technology via the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which operates on the basis of Blockchain. But with the recently added possibility to conduct smart contracts via a platform called Ethereum, Blockchain has gained increasing attention outside the financial sector. Conferences on Blockchain-based cryptocurrency Bitcoin are flourishing, startup competitions are held to spot the Blockchain equivalent of Amazon and Uber, and venture capital so far has raised $1.1bn to scale business models of the future (Weusecoins.com, 2016).

Meanwhile, another major disruption is occurring in the energy sector. Germany’s energy transformation, or Energiewende, is seen as a role model for the move toward a carbon-neutral energy supply. The process of reshaping the German energy system had already started in the 1990s, when it was decided to expand the share of power generation from largely carbon-neutral – albeit intermittent – renewable energies. In 2011, the German government decided to phase out its nuclear power fleet by 2022, which accelerated the transition.

More at: Blockchain and smart contracts: Pioneers of the energy frontier – International Business Times

Judges will need to learn about computer code to handle disputes, Vos predicts – Law Society Gazette

By Michael Cross    December 1, 2017

Technology to predict the outcome of disputes has ‘now very definitely arrived’, the head of the High Court has said in a speech forecasting the spread of online dispute resolution and ‘smart contracts’ based on blockchain encryption.

Speaking in Frankfurt, Sir Geoffrey Vos, chancellor of the High Court, said that digital ledgers, smart contracts and artificial intelligence are bringing about ‘nothing short of a major revolution’. But he dismissed suggestions that smart contracts – whose terms are executed automatically with tamper-proof encrypted code – will not require a foundation in law.

‘You 
cannot have 3 trillion contracts per year globally without expecting some of them to give rise to a dispute,’ he said. ‘We need to ensure that our judges are sufficiently educated in the legal basis of them, and in the computer code that underlies them, so that we can deal with these disputes and help to shape the legal environment in which these revolutionary developments will occur. We cannot just pretend that nothing is happening.’

Vos was bullish about the adoption of technology to forecast the outcome of disputes – and thus to inform decisions on whether to litigate. ‘This has been pioneered in the US, but has now very definitely arrived in Europe,’ he said. ‘My own view is that it is very useful for big business, because it can identify the most likely outcomes of uncertain litigation.’

More at: Judges will need to learn about computer code to handle disputes, Vos predicts – Law Society Gazette

Blockchain deal bodes ill for conveyancers – Law Society Gazette

By Michael Cross    October 16, 2017

A Swansea dentist is the first property buyer in the UK to exchange contracts digitally in a process which its promoters claim has the potential to remove the need for solicitors in transactions. The buyer acquired a £700,000 commercial property in Trowbridge in an online deal secured by blockchain digital encryption technology. This is a system for rendering blocks of data tamper-proof by distributing them across ‘shared ledgers’. It is best known for underpinning the bitcoin virtual currency.

Blockchain is also being investigated by law firms and insurers as a way of creating ‘smart’ contracts, the terms of which are activated automatically on receipt of trigger information.

The Trowbridge transaction was conducted through Clicktopurchase.com, which was set up by London property investment agency Singer Vielle. The agency already conducts sales online, secured with electronic signatures compatible with the European eIDAS regulation. However chief executive Neil Singer said that blockchain could transform the process by securing all details of the transaction in a tamper-proof form and that blockchain is a ‘game changer’.

‘It is a technology which will bring speed, ease and certainty. It makes a process more efficient and removes intermediaries,’ Singer said. Last week’s purchase was completed three days after the property went on the market, in a transaction that was recorded across a blockchain-secured shared ledger in four seconds.

More at: Blockchain deal bodes ill for conveyancers – Law Society Gazette