The cryptocurrency world needs to protect itself from “inferior patents,” says Square attorney when biz joins the Open Invention Network • The Register


interview Square, which founded the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) last year to defend cryptocurrency technologies against patent trolls, has now joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) to further strengthen its legal defense.

Max Sills, Counsel at Square and General Manager at COPA, said The registry that the digital payment giant “is by no means against patents. The point of a patent is to motivate people to do really good creative work.”

“What actually happens with crypto is that people are creative regardless of government incentives,” he said. “There’s a lot of really fast, really open work on cryptocurrency exchanges, wallets, transfer mechanisms, and what we’re seeing is that the people who get the patents aren’t really the people who normally contribute the core technology.

“So the system is a bit skewed. COPA wants to make sure that crypto can be used by everyone.”

The people who get the patents aren’t really the people who normally contribute the core technology

Now Square OIN has joined, “for the same reason we created COPA,” Sills told us. “Square uses and contributes to many open source projects and open technology, and we’ll only see each other more in the future. So it’s natural for us to join OIN because it’s a commitment to the community to be a good actor too be.” . “

The core of OIN is that approval signed by all members, granting royalty-free access to Linux-related patents and cross-licensing Linux system patents between members. OIN was founded in 2005 by big names like IBM, Red Hat and SUSE, in part in response to Microsoft’s threat to Linux and its then war chest of patents. In 2018 Microsoft joined OIN itself.

Is Square aware of the litigation threats posed by cryptocurrency-related technology owners?

“If you look at the majority of the patents that are issued on crypto, they are of very poor quality,” Sills told us.

“Most of what people do is copy and paste publicly published white papers or inventions that have been published in source code on GitHub and package them up and try to get patent protection for them.

“I will not comment on existing matters, but there has been litigation. There was a crypto mining patent in circulation and the company that held it threatened many miners. It was only a single patent, but that alone was enough to really disrupt the ecosystem.

“The actual litigation threats we’ve seen so far have been very minor, but each one has left an overwhelming impact on the developer community. We assume that there will be a lot more in the future.

“We see the writing on the wall and we love and depend on open source. So we’re sending a signal to others in the industry that they should consider joining too.”

The actual litigation threats we’ve seen have been very minor so far, but each one has left an overwhelming impact on the developer community

Sills, along with joining organizations like OIN and COPA, said one of the best defenses against patent litigation is, “If they threaten you about a particular library, keep an open dialogue with other companies because the numbers have power, and often if one Patent Troll is after you, they are after many others too. “

Publishing technologies is also helpful. “Publicly disclosed things cannot be patented, so companies should continue to post code and white papers explaining the techniques that are at the core of their business but don’t use trade secrets,” Sills said.

What does he think of the existing patent law? “I think the legal framework surrounding patents needs to be studied carefully and I don’t think I am alone with that,” he told us.

“Especially with software and cryptocurrency technologies as well as open source, patents are becoming more of a blocker of innovation than something that creates incentives. This can be compared, for example, to a drug that could take 10 years to develop and that makes sense to give someone a patent for a product.

“It’s also important to be ethical,” added Sills. For companies that rely on open source software, “the minimum ethical you can do is to promise not to be aggressive when you’ve just found something someone else wrote and you deserve it.” so that money. ” ®

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