Taking further steps into the world of cryptocurrency, two entities of the federal government recently took legal action against BitFunder, a now-defunct Bitcoin exchange, and its founder, Jon Montroll. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against BitFunder and Montroll, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan brought criminal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice against Montroll, who was arrested and taken into custody. BitFunder was an exchange that, among other things, empowered its customers to create and trade Bitcoin denominated shares of enterprises. The numerous allegations and charges against the defendants include:
Continue Reading Crypto-Crime: The SEC and DOJ Go After BitFunder and Its BitFounder

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are rapidly emerging as disruptive technologies. As has happened with many new technologies, particularly disruptive ones, a patent arms race is occurring. The number of patents being filed for these technologies is rapidly increasing.

The number of published applications shows roughly a tenfold increase over the number of issued patents.

Despite this increase in patent filing activity, many companies are unaware of what aspects of this technology can be patented and many myths and misconceptions exist. In addition to the usual misconceptions about patents (detailed below), the open source aspect of many blockchain-based inventions leads to greater confusion. The patentability of software and technology platforms does not cease just because some or all of the software is open source or built on a known protocol.
Continue Reading Patent Strategies for Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology

Apple just announced a number of changes to its App Store Review Guidelines, including the requirement that apps offering “loot boxes” or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase. This comes as the incredibly successful monetization mechanic of loot boxes has come under scrutiny as we have addressed in our prior posts on Are Loot Boxes An Illegal Gambling Mechanic? and an Update to that post.
Continue Reading Apple Requires Disclosure of Odds for Loot Boxes

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s LabCFTC recently released, “A CFTC Primer on Virtual Currencies.” This primer provides an overview of virtual currencies and their potential use-cases, helps outline the CFTC’s role and oversight of virtual currencies, and cautions investors and users of the potential risks involved with virtual currencies.
Continue Reading CFTC Issues Primer on Virtual Currency, Virtual Tokens and ICOs

A member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament has opened an inquiry into the legality of loot boxes. Loot boxes are virtual items that may be redeemed to receive a randomized selection of additional virtual items. Various countries around the world have recently moved to regulate the provision of loot boxes in video games, often in response to inquiries from consumers or legislators, such as the aforementioned inquiry in the UK. This leads to the ultimate question: are loot boxes legal? The linked article below addresses this question and several other issues related to loot boxes.
Continue Reading Are Loot Boxes An Illegal Gambling Mechanic?

As the collective market cap of the cryptocurrencies has jump above $150 billion, traders and investors have accumulated significant gains. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Internal Revenue Service is stepping up efforts to ensure that taxes are reported and paid. To assist in this effort, it has contracted with company that provides software that analyzes and tracks bitcoin transactions.
Continue Reading Cryptocurrency Traders Beware – The Taxman Cometh!

As the number and dollar volume of Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) continue to increase, the SEC has taken a greater interest in this activity. As we previously reported, the SEC issued its initial ICO guidance on July 25, 2017. In this guidance it declared that depending on the facts and circumstances, an ICO offering may involve the offer and sale of securities. If that is the case, the offer and sale of virtual coins or tokens must itself be registered with the SEC, or be performed pursuant to an exemption from registration. 
Continue Reading SEC Issues Warning on Certain ICOs

The SEC has opined that, depending on the facts and circumstances of each individual ICO, the virtual coins or tokens that are offered or sold may be securities. If they are securities, the offer and sale of these virtual coins or tokens in an ICO are subject to the federal securities laws.
Continue Reading SEC Declares That Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) May Be Securities; Finds DAO a Security