How to fight blockchain and crypto patent trolls and protect against patent abuse from bad actors
Various bad actors, such as “patent trolls” (parties who purchase patents and assert the same for a return on investment) and “patent pickpockets” (parties who obtain patents on technology lifted from others) are gearing up to assert patents against blockchain and crypto innovators. The typical patent case costs the target at least $250,000 (US) to settle out of court. Fighting a patent assertion could cost 10-20 times that amount.
Your blockchain or crypto company could be next.
Patent examiners often do not have adequate time or resources to thoroughly examine patents. As a result, many overly broad patents are improperly granted to subject matter that is not innovative. These patents can be asserted against true innovators who use the "patented" technology as a building block. The Open Crypto Alliance is a part of a “tapestry” of community efforts to address possible negative effects of patent assertion.
LOT Network protects its members from "patent assertion entities" who obtain patents from other LOT Members;
The Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance ensures that members do not sue one another; and
Open Source Software licenses allow the community to develop and use software without violating the copyright of others
Each of these community initiatives addresses a problem of concern. However, they do not address actors who will assert overly broad patents. Also, such actors are not likely to join any community agreement. The Open Crypto Alliance directly addresses the problem by challenging overly broad patents that are owned by parties who are likely to assert the patents in a manner that hinders innovation. A successful challenge will invalidate the patent, preventing assertion of the patent.
There are thousands of patents being filed for blockchain and crypto technologies.
Blockchain Patent Applications by Year
As an example of a party amassing a large number of patents, nChain has filed over 800 patents internationally on various aspects of blockchain and crypto technology (see, e.g., nChain/Wright US patents and pending US patent applications). Many of those are now in a phase where they have been published and can be opposed before they can be asserted against blockchain innovators.
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Craig Wright, nChain's founder, has expressly said that he intends to control the industry.
If you want to build and grow a profitable crypto company, then pay attention.
If you fear that someday your blockchain company could be targeted by parties asserting overly broad patents, then you’ve come to the right place.
If you suspect that corporations are trying to control blockchain and crypto technology, then pay close attention.
Here’s the situation
If you achieve success, you will not be able to stay hidden from patent trolls or patent pirates. Their entire business is based upon seeking out successful companies like yours and leveraging the high cost of patent litigation to obtain a cash settlement—or, in some cases, where the patents are held by active crypto businesses, they could attempt to use their patents to shut down competition. And because the cost of litigation is so high, they will attack even if the patent is not highly relevant to your activities, meaning you could still be forced to settle for hundreds of thousands of dollars just to avoid a multimillion dollar legal bill.
As a community, blockchain and crypto entrepreneurs have a limited time window and unique opportunity to protect our businesses now. The Open Crypto Alliance is dedicated to keeping blockchain and crypto technology free of unwarranted patent assertions. We intend to do this by taking aggressive proactive action to oppose overly broad patents that are being accumulated by many parties.
We are blockchain and crypto advocates, working in technology and patent law for over 30 years.
Since 2015, we have been anticipating this day.
We are committed to making a difference and we are passionate about crypto and the open, inclusive financial future that it enables.
Our team has been published in the following...
We created this alliance to organize a successful fight to provide freedom to operate in blockchain and crypto technology.
Here’s how it works:
When patent applications are published, prior art can be submitted for the Examiner to consider
Once a patent is granted, it can be opposed during a limited period of time
Many of these patents are weak and even based on existing open source technology
These can be opposed with the right legal and technical approach
Successfully opposed patents fall into the public domain
Our team has the skills and the know-how to do this
Each patent successfully opposed makes your business safer
You could do this individually. You would have to identify patents that may be a threat to your business. Then you would have to file an opposition. To do this you would probably need legal assistance and the cost will be substantial.
Or you can do this with us. Join a collective effort dedicated to protecting your business. Your contribution is an investment in the future of your business. Because we act in the collective interest of all of our contributors, your contribution is effectively multiplied across all alliance members and theirs are multiplied onto you.
Remember, if you are a blockchain or crypto entrepreneur, you are at risk of being trolled and the average cost of a troll action is at least $250,000 to settle out of court and in the millions to fight in court.
We need to combine our strength. Each patent we fight will cost at least $10,000 in legal and filing fees. A simple donation of $10,000 today is an investment that could save your company millions in the future. If we eliminate only one patent assertion against you, that’s at least a 25x return on your funds!
We must act now. There is a limited time window to effectively oppose patents and by 2023 the patent trolls and pirates will be out in full force. We are a small team with a huge job to do. We need your support to win this together.
Join us. Please take a minute to fill out our short questionnaire so that we can see how we can best work together.