Law of the Ledger

Legal Issues with Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action last Monday, November 8, 2021, and sanctioned a Latvia-based exchange, Chatex, its associated support network, and two ransomware operators for facilitating financial transactions for ransomware actors. In total, OFAC designated Chatex and 57 cryptocurrency addresses (associated with digital wallets) as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs). OFAC took this action pursuant to Executive Order 13694, issued in 2015, which provides broad sanctions authority to address the national security threat posed by malicious cyber-actors outside the United States.
Continue Reading OFAC Enforcement Impacts NFTs: As Crypto Enforcement Ramps Up to Combat Ransomware, Robust Compliance is Key

New York’s chief law enforcement agency recently squandered an opportunity to bring much needed guidance to the digital assets space.  On October 18, the Office of New York Attorney General Letitia James (“NYAG”) issued a press release warning New York businesses offering interest-bearing accounts to customers who deposit virtual currency with them without having registered under General Business Law § 352, et seq. (the “Martin Act”) that they are breaking the law.
Continue Reading NYAG’s Warning to Crypto Businesses Muddies Regulatory Waters

Tokenization

Tokenization limits the exposure of sensitive information and makes digital transactions more secure.  Whether people realize it or not, millions of Americans already use tokenization technology on a daily basis.  Recent developments in blockchain systems and decentralized finance create new uses for tokenization, raising legal questions as to how existing regulatory frameworks will apply or adapt.
Continue Reading Tokenization: Opportunity and Regulation, Finding a Balance

Last week, Coinbase Global Inc. (“Coinbase”) headed off confrontation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) by announcing it was shelving a much ballyhooed digital asset lending product, Lend.  The announcement came two weeks after Coinbase revealed that it had received a Wells notice from the SEC warning the company of its plans to sue over Coinbase’s planned October Lend launch.
Continue Reading A September to Remember: Coinbase Avoids SEC Clash by Dropping Crypto Lend Product

At least three different types of marketplaces facilitate the sale and/or resale of NFTs. These include open marketplaces, curated marketplaces and proprietary marketplaces. Other variations do exist, however, and it is likely that other alternatives will be developed. In the attached article, we examine some of the differences between these types of marketplaces and business models, highlight some of the different license terms of these marketplaces and discuss why IP owners who license their IP for NFTs often are best served by developing their own licenses to be used in connection with sale of their NFTs.
Continue Reading NFT License Breakdown: Exploring Different Marketplaces and Associated License Issues

This was originally published by Esports Insider on June 4, 2021

Within the blockchain space, one of the fastest-growing areas is NFTs. Within the games space, esports is growing rapidly. So naturally the combination of NFTs and esports should have tremendous potential. This article will explore some opportunities at the intersection of these trends and some of the potential legal issues that might arise.
Continue Reading The Legal Considerations of Esports NFTs

It is called the Cowboy state for a reason. With varied terrain and a hearty population Wyoming has long been a haven for independent thinkers and doers – pioneers.  The Wyoming legislature recently underscored that truth with the first state law addressing governance issues for decentralized autonomous organizations or “DAO(s).”  We are not talking self-driving vehicles here.  Those will not work on Teton mountain road switch backs.  This is all about future vision of decentralized digital finance.  A new gold rush for the west for those states who embrace it and Wyoming is doing just that.  This March it passed
Continue Reading Wyoming Takes the Lead With Decentralized Autonomous Organizations

The Office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James (“NYAG”) has filed a lawsuit to shut down technology company Coinseed.  The state has accused the firm of selling unregistered securities in the form of digital tokens and operating as an unregistered broker-dealer while making material misrepresentations about the company, its management team, and fees charged to investors in connection with cryptocurrency trades.
Continue Reading New York Attorney General Sues to Shutter Cryptocurrency Trading Firm Coinseed

The tokenization of physical and digital art has many advantages. Some of the advantages create potential complexities under US law. Each situation is fact specific, but the following is a summary of some of the areas for which careful consideration is needed with tokenized art. This is not a complete list, but provides some of the most common issues that we typically see. These issues can impact the owners/creators of tokenized art as well as the exchanges and platforms that sell them.
Continue Reading Tokenized Art Legal Issues

As with other rapidly-evolving technologies, the blockchain space is experiencing a frenzy of patent activity. The data shows that there are 3-4 times as many published applications as there are issued patents for these concepts. This trend strongly suggests that the number of blockchain-related patents will surge in the next couple of years. However, due to recent changes in patent law, it is more important than ever to ensure that you analyze the patentability of blockchain inventions in light of these changes to target inventions likely to result in patents.  Once likely patentable inventions are identified, it is critical to
Continue Reading How to Successfully Obtain Blockchain Patents

As with other rapidly-evolving technologies, the FinTech space is experiencing a frenzy of patent activity. As its name implies, FinTech is part financial innovation (“fin”) relating to new aspects of finance and finance-related business models, and part technological innovation (“tech”) relating to the application of, and enhancements to, technology that enables the fin-related innovations. Unfortunately, this mixing of innovation often results in difficulties in obtaining patent protection under the USPTO’s ever-evolving tests for patent-eligible subject matter. Many patent applications for fin-related innovations are rejected by the USPTO as being an abstract idea or merely a business method implemented on a
Continue Reading Key Insights for Obtaining FinTech Patents

FinCEN has issued a notice that it intends to amend the regulations implementing the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) regarding reports of foreign financial accounts (FBAR) to include virtual currency as a type of reportable account under 31 CFR 1010.350. Currently, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) regulations do not define a foreign account holding virtual currency as a type of reportable account. (See 31 CFR 1010.350(c)). As a result, the notice indicates that “at this time, a foreign account holding virtual currency is not reportable on the FBAR (unless it is a reportable account under 31 C.F.R.
Continue Reading FinCEN Announces Intention to Require FBAR Reporting of Crypto Currency

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a report on Regulatory Approaches to the Tokenisation of Assets (Jan. 2021).  The report notes that: “Policy makers in different jurisdictions have approached tokenisation in different ways, either by applying existing financial regulations to tokenised assets; by introducing new tailor-made regulatory frameworks or by adapting existing rules to accommodate the application of DLTs in tokenisation.” Some of the key takeaways from the report are:
Continue Reading Regulatory Approaches to the Tokenisation of Assets

There are a number of uses of blockchain technology which may give rise to competition concerns. As a distributed ledger where transactions are recorded in real time and are accessible to everyone within that network, blockchain makes at least some transaction information accessible to users within the network. The available information can provide insights on highly sensitive commercial business transactions and/or strategies. Blockchains can also be seen as a decentralized model of data storage including payment transactions, purchase history, corporate accounts, pricing history as well as future changes to pricing. These characteristics can expose users of blockchain technology to competition
Continue Reading Blockchain and EU Competition Law

The use of blockchain technology by game companies is nascent but growing. As a transaction based-technology, blockchain is well suited to manage in game economies through tokenized game assets and the use of cryptocurrency for payment. This also provides a benefit to players in that they can truly own their assets, as opposed to just having a terminable license as is the case with most traditional online games. Blockchain and NFTs hold great promise. If your business gets involved with these technologies it is critical to get solid legal advice before you get too far down the road.
Continue Reading Will Blockchain Game Use Drive Greater Overall Blockchain Adoption?