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

New Effort to Exempt Crypto Currency from Certain SEC, Tax and Other Regulatory Burdens

A new bill, the Token Taxonomy Act was introduced to congress to amend the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to exclude digital tokens from the definition of a security, to direct the Securities and Exchange Commission to enact certain regulatory changes regarding digital units secured through public key cryptography, to adjust taxation of virtual currencies held in individual retirement accounts, to create a tax exemption for exchanges of one virtual currency for another, to create a de minimis exemption from taxation for gains realized from the sale or exchange of virtual currency for other than cash, and for other purposes. Continue Reading

SEC Issues First No Action Letter on Crypto Tokens

On April 3, 2019, the SEC issued its first no-action letter for a crypto token! This is a significant step in providing regulatory clarity for when a token is NOT a security or at least when the SEC will take no action on enforcement. The same day it also issued Framework for “Investment Contract” Analysis of Digital Assets (which we will cover in a separate blog post). Continue Reading

Blockchain Games and Collectibles – Patents and Other Legal Issues

The use of blockchain (or distributed ledger) technology for games (a.k.a blockchain games) and token-based digital collectibles is on the rise. The overnight popularity of CryptoKitties was as significant to raising the awareness of digital collectibles as Pokémon Go was to location-based AR games. However, the ecosystem extends well beyond CryptoKitties, and is growing rapidly. The ecosystem includes cross-platform crypto currency and tokens, digital asset marketplaces, digital collectibles, decentralized virtual worlds and more. A significant amount of investment is going into this space. Blockchain gaming startup Forte has announced a deal with Ripple’s Xpring crypto currency platform to invest $100 million in game developers who make games based on blockchain technology. While the opportunities in this space are real, there are a number of legal issues that can arise depending on how a company implements its offerings. Continue Reading

Not Every (Open Source) Cloud Has a Silver Lining

This article was originally published on Law360 on March 1, 2019.

The use of open source with cloud-based deployments has become more complicated. Until recently, the OSS license issues with cloud deployments have been fairly straight forward. It is well known that certain OSS licenses have some significant legal implications (detailed below) but that these implications are triggered when software programs that use OSS are distributed. Due to the fact that with most cloud-based deployments the software is not distributed, many developers are lulled into a false sense of security that there are no OSS implications with such deployments. The reality is there are a growing number of OSS licenses that have significant legal implications, even when the OSS is used in a cloud-based deployment. This article will address some of the relevant licenses and their legal implications. Continue Reading

HIMMS19 Conference – Blockchain Symposium Recap

The first day of the HIMSS19 conference featured a day long blockchain symposium focusing on “How Blockchain Technology Brings Value to Healthcare.” The room was packed.

The morning presentations included an overview of blockchain and distributed ledger technology, including the strengths and limitations of this emerging technology as applied to healthcare. David Houlding, Principal Healthcare Lead for Microsoft Corporation sorted through the reality and the hype. On the strengths, he highlighted the data integrity, transparency, decentralization, resilience, and anti-fraud aspects of the technology. In the short term, he indicated that applications where blockchain can reduce costs (e.g., provider directories, provider credentialing, and drug supply chains) will be first adopted, followed by the more complex applications that improve patient outcomes, engage patients and enhance their experiences, and finally those that enhance healthcare professional experiences. He stressed that one of the most difficult challenges is building the consortium trust among the relevant network of healthcare organizations. He also noted that blockchain will not replace, but rather co-exist with enterprise systems, where it makes business sense. Continue Reading

HIMSS19 Kicks-Off Addressing Leading Topics in Healthcare Information Technology

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) kicked-off its annual global conference this week in Orlando, Florida, addressing leading topics in healthcare information technology. Over 45,000 healthcare and information technology professionals and 1,300+ vendors are expected to attend the week long event.   Continue Reading

How Blockchain Technology Brings Value to Healthcare

Blockchain applications for healthcare have garnered significant attention recently. For example, as we recently blogged, five major healthcare companies – Humana, MultiPlan, Optum, Quest Diagnostics, and UnitedHealthcare – formed the Synaptic Health Alliance (the “Alliance”) to explore how blockchain technology could resolve current healthcare issues. Continue Reading

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