Twitter CEO and founder of Square Payments Company, Jack Dorsey, announced that Square has launched the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance (COPA) to create a better strategy for crypto patents, which will help rather than stifle or derail crypto development and adoption.
The newly formed COPA is inviting individuals, startups, small businesses, and large corporations to join an open patent strategy idea. The alliance aims to promote the community development spirit between crypto developers, engineers, and designers and make sure that existing and future crypto technologies are used for the benefit of all.
“Square is putting all of our crypto patents into a new non-profit organization we’re calling the crypto open patent alliance, which will maintain a shared patent library to help the crypto community defend against patent aggressors and trolls.”
Shared Patent Library
Members of COPA, individuals, and companies will agree to participate in an open patent strategy to create a patent library and pledge never to use their patents against other developers.
“Members of pool all their crypto-technology patents together to form a shared patent library. This collective shield of patents provides members with access to each other’s patents to deter and defend against patent aggressors.”
Members will be expected to share their patents freely to users and agree to pool several patents to create a communal pool of patents. The open patent strategy is expected to protect patent owners as well as other developers from random lawsuits and allows more access to developers without a patent.
“The patent and the shared patent library will work in tandem to help drive down the incidence and threat of patent litigation, benefiting the cryptocurrency community as a whole.”
Protecting the Crypto Space from Patent Sharks
The primary role of patents is to protect entrepreneurs and inventors, but various cases have shown that patents can actually derail the implementation of an idea or stop it completely.
Most cryptocurrencies focus on decentralization, and therefore, their programs are open source. However, according to COPA, many crypto organizations have filed for hundreds of patents on cryptocurrency technology, with many more filing for new patents every day.
The current US patent system allows anyone to patent an existing idea. COPA stated that while patents help secure ownership rights, the downside has two major negative effects on innovation. First, it locks up critical and foundational cryptocurrency technologies which slow down crypto application development and adoption.
Second, bad actors abuse patents by filing for ownership and going after real companies implementing a certain technology for infringement of property. Many crypto companies do not own patents and cannot adequately deter or defend against some of the bad actors.
“While patents are useful defensively and can serve as a lawsuit deterrent, misguided and offensive use of patents by bad actors threatens the growth and free availability of cryptocurrency technology.”
COPA will be governed by nine board members from three groups; key members from the Open source crypto community, founding members, and other alliance members.