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The role of intellectual property in cryptocurrency

Colorado startups and existing companies in a wide range of industries are trying to take advantage of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Many of these companies are creating new coins, software and infrastructure to support their ventures. As part of the process, experts say they should strongly consider protecting their intellectual property. There are several different types of IP protection available depending on the type of information involved.

Patents are viewed as the most powerful type of intellectual property protection, but this legal tool has many complications when it comes to blockchain technology. Ethical concerns, the instability of crypto-related industries and the difficulty in proving eligibility have all hampered the ability of companies to obtain patents. Another problem is that blockchain was originally developed to be decentralized, free and open source, all concepts that are contrary to the purpose of patents.

Despite the complications involved with patents and crypto, filings related to the technology have increased. Many of these filings are being done by some of the largest corporations, mostly financial companies, in the United States. While federal courts have hesitated to grant patents for crypto when they've viewed it as a mere form a financial transaction, they may grant protection if the company filing can prove enhanced functionality such as greater security or efficiency.

Companies looking to protect their intellectual property related to crypto or other technologies should consult with an attorney to see what their options are. Patents aren't always possible to obtain, but a lawyer will use all the knowledge and resources at their disposal to help a client find ways to protect their unique intellectual assets. Specifically, trademarks and copyrights can be valuable legal protection tools when a patent isn't possible.

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