Joint Statement on Digital Assets from CFTC, SEC and FinCEN – a Warning to the Crypto Industry regarding Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Obligations

The leaders of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Agencies”) issued a joint statement to remind persons engaged in activities involving digital assets of their anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). This joint statement provides further clarity on some of the many laws potentially applicable to crypto currency and other digital assets and highlights the need for anyone operating in the space to obtain legal advice to understand their legal compliance obligations. According to the statement, AML/CFT obligations apply to entities that the BSA defines as “financial institutions,” such as futures commission merchants and introducing brokers obligated to register with the CFTC, money services businesses (MSBs) as defined by FinCEN, and broker-dealers and mutual funds obligated to register with the SEC.  Among those AML/CFT obligations are the requirement to establish and implement an effective anti-money laundering program (AML Program and recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including suspicious activity reporting (SAR) requirements.) Continue Reading

Patent Attacks Against Open Source Intensify!

We previously reported on how popular open source has been under attack from patent assertion entities. The attacks continue. The GNOME Foundation recently acknowledged that it was sued for patent infringement by Rothschild Patent Imaging LLC. The allegedly infringing product is Shotwell, a free and open source personal photo manager. Neil McGovern, Executive Director for the GNOME Foundation says “We have retained legal counsel and intend to vigorously defend against this baseless suit.” The suit alleges infringement of a single patent 9,936,086 titled “Wireless Image Distribution System and Method.” Continue Reading

CFTC Chairman Says Ether Is a Commodity

According to a recent report, the new chair of the CFTC, Heath Tarbert, has declared that he believes that ether is a commodity. He also anticipates ether futures trading on U.S. markets in the near future. The CFTC has previously taken the position that bitcoin also is a commodity.  He further indicated that he agrees with the SEC that bitcoin and ether are not securities. He also opined that similar assets should be treated similarly.  Continue Reading

What’s in the Bottle? FDA Announces New Blockchain Pilot Program for Tracking Drug Distribution

Where does my prescription come from? Has it been altered or diluted? Can I trust the label? With millions of prescriptions filled each year, quality control and security across the pharmaceutical supply chain seems like a herculean task. In an attempt to slay this proverbial hydra, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed a new pilot program – the DSCSA Blockchain Interoperability Pilot (the “Blockchain Pilot”) – which aims to use blockchain to create a secure electronic, interoperable system that tracks and traces certain prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States. Continue Reading

Blockchain Continues to Make Headway in the Energy Industry

Recent developments in the energy sector indicate that blockchain technology is being embraced to address a range of issues including network security and improved integration of renewable generation and demand response resources. This emerging technology continues to have the potential to become a disrupter in the energy industry. Continue Reading

Open Source Software Policies – Why You Need Them And What They Should Include

The chances are high that your company uses open source software (“OSS”) in some capacity. While the benefits of OSS are clear, it is also clear that OSS can pose significant legal risks that must be addressed. The best way to manage these risks is to have a clearly written and enforced OSS policy. To understand why these policies are necessary, it is first necessary to understand the risks of not having one. Our recent paper identifies some of the key legal issues to understand when using OSS followed by some of the elements to consider in such a policy.

Blockchain and Healthcare Innovation: A City, Academia, and Technology Firms Join Forces to find Blockchain Solutions to Address Public Health Challenges

As the excitement around blockchain technology continues to grow in the healthcare sector, there is an increasing realization that blockchain has the capability of addressing many of the data and information-related challenges that the healthcare world has been focused on for years – such as providing access to comprehensive interoperable electronic health records and ensuring data continuity for patients who receive treatment in multiple healthcare settings. As this realization has taken hold, healthcare stakeholders and constituents are seemingly trying to “make up for lost time” with new blockchain initiatives being announced on a regular basis seeking to turn theoretical applications into real-world blockchain solutions.[1] Continue Reading

FinCEN – We Will Identify Where Compliance Is Not Taking Place And Take Appropriate Action

Last week we reported that FinCEN had issued new guidance addressing cryptocurrency and other convertible virtual currency. The need for compliance was reinforced this week. In a speech by Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, during blockchain week in NY, a stern warning was issued. The message was clear. Regulatory compliance is not an option and you must do it right from the start – not just after you got a call from regulators or law enforcement.

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FinCEN Updates Guidance on Crypto

FinCEN has issued  2 new guidance documents addressing cryptocurrency and other convertible virtual currency (CVC). The guidance does not establish any new regulatory expectations. Rather, it consolidates current FinCEN regulations, guidance and administrative rulings that relate to money transmission involving virtual currency, and applies the same interpretive criteria to other common business models involving CVC. FinCEN’s rules define certain businesses or individuals involved with CVCs as money transmitters subject to the same registration requirements and a range of anti-money laundering, program, recordkeeping, and reporting responsibilities as other money services businesses. It also warns of threats posed by virtual currency misuse. Continue Reading

Popular Open Source Software under Patent Attack

Sound View Innovations is launching patent attacks against commonly used open source software including jQuery and Apache Hadoop. Sound View is targeting end users of these software components. This is a typical tactic of non-practicing patent assertion entities. Unlike some commercial software, most open source software is licensed with a disclaimer of any warranties regarding patent infringement. This makes it harder for end users to look to software publishers for indemnity. The interplay between patents and open source is often misunderstood. For clarification on some of these issues see our paper on Patent Issues with Open Source Software. Continue Reading

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