On their own, blockchain technology, open-source software and patents each present legal issues that are often complex and frequently misunderstood. When combined, the complexity and misunderstandings of these three topics are magnified. This article will address how this trio may work together and the potential legal and business ramifications resulting therefrom.
This set of issues is important now because blockchain technology is on the verge of mainstream commercialization and much of it relies on open-source software. As with any technology where there is rapid innovation, the number of patents being filed and obtained is increasing. The interplay between patents and open-source is often confused. The recent changes to the scope of patentable subject matter under U. S. patent laws have created uncertainty over what is patentable. This is particularly true with respect to blockchain-based inventions and how innovations in this space are disrupting business processes.
Originally published in Law360 on November 1, 2018.
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