Blockchain technology decentralizes data so that any data stored using that technology is far less likely to be breached than data that is centrally stored.
The use of this decentralized data, much like the transition to cloud-based hosting, will be both a tremendous benefit to business and offer new, and somewhat unpredictable challenges.
Our attorneys are well-versed in the current state of blockchain infrastructure, and can help business clients evaluate strategy, review options, and develop a coherent approach to blockchain transactions. We are actively involved in industry working groups, such as E4Carolinas, that are exploring ways in which blockchain will affect capital raising, energy delivery, supply chain management, cyber security and privacy.
We are currently exploring ways that blockchain can be used to enable crowdfunding for a variety of areas, ranging from tech startups to real estate investors. We are also focused on blockchain in the financial services industry, helping lenders consider the ramifications of blockchain for digital currency transactions, escrow, stock transfer and automated payment services
Smart Contracts are blockchain software programs that replace or supplement traditional written contracts. This new contract paradigm is beginning to significantly change business models and legal practices - for example, standards of care for implementing and executing smart contracts and validating software or hardware.
Blockchain is changing security paradigms for sensitive data, such as financial data and medical records. Such sensitive data is encrypted and moved to blockchains that are distributed over computer networks to make the data less susceptible to single point failure and conventional forms of hacking. Ward and Smith's Privacy and Data Security team routinely counsels clients across a broad spectrum of industries, including finance and banking, healthcare, technology, construction, and retail. We assist clients who are navigating the complex requirements of privacy and data security regulations with managing the risks and breach notification requirements related to data security incidents. Our team remains engaged in the new challenges blockchain technology will bring to data security.
Patents and other IP Issues and Services
Nearly 400 blockchain related patent applications published between January and June of 2017, including many filed by large financial institutions, such as Bank of America and Mastercard. The rate of growth of such patent applications since 2012 resembles the explosion of internet-related patent applications that occurred in the late 1990's and early 2000's. These new blockchain-related applications raise subject matter eligibility and other issues. Patent assertion entities (a/k/a Trolls) are assembling portfolios of blockchain-related patents for assertion in the financial services, medical data management, supply chain management and other industries that will likely implement blockchain solutions in the next 5-10 years.
Our team explains the IP landscape to financial institutions and other businesses, including identifying IP whitespace that can be cultivated for IP assets while avoiding trolls and other pitfalls along the way. Our blockchain team includes patent prosecution attorneys with extensive experience in patenting software-related inventions and counseling clients on software-related patent issues, backed by litigation attorneys with experience in defending against actions by trolls and other contested patent matters.