As reported on Hunton’s Blockchain Legal Resource blog, in the race to develop blockchain technology, companies are increasingly devoting capital to creating proprietary blockchain solutions. A search of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) as of today returns 355 patent applications that contain either “blockchain” or “distributed ledger” in the abstract. Patents are being filed related to a wide variety of industries and applications, including supply chain management, autonomous deliveries, energy networks, electronic health records, 3D printing, travel itinerary management, data security and securing rights to digital media. Continue Reading Major Companies Are Quietly Amassing Blockchain Patents Across Industries

This was a breakout year for blockchain, the technology providing the platform for cryptocurrencies and the emerging market for initial coin offerings and token sales. With bitcoin capturing headlines because of its soaring price, blockchain’s impact is often misunderstood as narrowly affecting the financial sector. Hunton & Williams LLP’s corporate lawyers Scott H. Kimpel and Mayme Beth Donohue discuss with Law360 why “retail and consumer products companies can no longer afford to ignore blockchain as a passing trend.”

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As reported on the Blockchain Legal Resource Blog on August 27, 2019, The Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with the promoters of chain-based cryptocurrency schemes—Thomas Dluca, Louis Gatto, Eric Pinkston and Scott Chandler—in which the defendants promised recruits big rewards in exchange for a small payment of bitcoin or Litecoin.

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On January 18, 2018, Hunton & Williams LLP’s retail industry lawyers, composed of more than 100 lawyers across practices, released their annual Retail Year in Review publication. The Retail Year in Review includes many topics of interest to retailers including blockchain, antitrust enforcement in the Trump Administration, ransomware’s impact on the retail industry, SEC and M&A activity in 2017, cyber insurance, vulnerability to class actions, and the reduced tax rate.

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Due to volatile and record-breaking valuations, cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology, blockchain, have been at the forefront of financial news headlines. Blockchain technology is, very simply, a decentralized digital ledger that records economic transactions in a way that cannot be copied or destroyed, therefore eliminating fraudulent or duplicative transactions. Bitcoin is perhaps the best known cryptocurrency, and for which blockchain technology was invented. Bitcoins are discovered through “mining,” a process whereby computers use processing power to solve difficult puzzles. The miner who finds the solution receives bitcoins, essentially digital tokens, as a reward. Unlike traditional currencies, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies do not require a third party or central authority for its users to transfer value.  Continue Reading Cryptocurrency and the Concern for Retailers

The Initial Coin Offering (“ICO”) market exploded in 2017 with almost $4 billion of investments. Securities regulators in the United States have responded first with a series of public warnings and, more recently, by bringing enforcement actions against promoters of ICOs and other digital currency investments. We survey some of the recent regulatory developments in this rapidly evolving field. Continue Reading Securities Regulators Expand Oversight of ICO Market and Digital Currency

On December 11, 2017, the SEC issued a cease-and-desist order against Munchee Inc. after finding that the company’s initial coin offering (“ICO”) constituted unregistered offers and sales of securities. Munchee sought to raise $15 million for its blockchain-based food review and social platform by selling digital tokens to users that could be used to buy and sell goods and services through an iPhone app. Munchee and others promoting the ICO told investors that the tokens could be expected to increase in value as the company implemented improvements to the app and said that the company would work to support a secondary market for the tokens.  Continue Reading Company Ends Initial Coin Offering after SEC Finds Securities Violations

As we previously reported, beginning last Friday, and still occurring today, one of the worst and most widespread malware attacks has impacted more than 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, including Britain’s National Health Service, FedEx, telecommunications companies Telefonica and Megafon, and automakers Renault and Nissan. The malware, known as “WannaCry,” disables the user’s computer system and all of its data. A note in a text file then appears stating that in order to unlock the computer, $300 worth of the digital currency bitcoin must be paid to the hackers. A countdown timer appears and the fee increases with time. The hackers threaten to delete all data on the computer system if payment is not sent within one week. Cybersecurity experts believe that the malware was sent to computers through “phishing attacks,” which are emails that appear to be from reputable sources and include a download to a link that allows the malware to infect the computer. From these computers, the malware then spreads to other computers on the network. One infected computer can spread this virus network-wide, and quickly. Continue Reading If You Don’t “WannaCry” After a Cyber Attack, Review Your Cyber Insurance Coverage