A class action lawsuit filed by users of a decentralized finance (“DeFi”) protocol managed by a decentralized autonomous organization, or “DAO,” may shed light on the potential legal liabilities of a DAO and its participants. The complaint in Sarcuni v. bZx DAO, No. 22-cv-0618 (S.D. Cal. May 2, 2022), highlights several issues related to DAO liability of which DAO participants should be aware. There is a common misperception that an unincorporated DAO is not subject to liability because there is no entity for regulators to pursue. The fact is that such DAOs may be deemed general partnerships and the participants may each bear some liability for activities of the DAO. In some cases, a DAO includes a wrapper entity, in part, to shield participants from such liability. This issue highlights a tension between the aspirations of Web3 entities to be decentralized and community-governed on the one hand, and the challenges of accomplishing those aspirations given the current state of corporate law on the other hand.
Jim Gatto is a partner in the Intellectual Property Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. He is Leader of the Blockchain & Fintech Team, Social Media and Games Team and Open Source Team.
Mythical Games Scores NFL License for Blockchain Video Game
The National Football League has announced a partnership with Mythical Games to create a blockchain video game called NFL Rivals. The game will use unique, generative 3D NFL franchise-themed NFTs and let players act as a general manager to assemble a team and compete against other teams.…
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Former NFT Marketplace Employee Charged with Insider Trading
The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging Nathaniel Chastain with wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a scheme to commit insider trading in Non-Fungible Tokens, or “NFTs,” by using confidential information about what NFTs were going to be featured on [the marketplace] homepage for his personal financial gain. Chastain was arrested this morning in New York. …
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Securities and Exchange Commission V. LBRY; Is Your Crypto Project Illegal?
While the crypto community is rightfully focused on the Ripple case to see how the SEC will fare in court on enforcements alleging cryptocurrency offerings are a security, a lesser-known case may provide clarity first. The SEC’s suit against LBRY is scheduled for trial in September 2022.…
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Blockchain and Metaverse Legal Issues for the Government and Government Contractors
The rise of blockchain, metaverse and Web3 technologies has lead to rapid adoption across all sectors of the economy. The government sector is no exception. Perhaps one of the most compelling examples is the recent announcement that the US military is building its own metaverse.…
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Governor Newsom Signs Blockchain Executive Order
In an apparent follow up to President Biden’s March Executive Order on Digital Assets (which we previously discussed here), this week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a similar executive order aiming to foster responsible innovation, bolster California’s innovation economy, and strengthen consumer protection through creating a transparent regulatory and business environment for Web3 companies. Newsom’s executive order credits Biden’s executive order as paving the way for the assessment of key issues raised by crypto-assets and sets California on a path to harmonize its nascent crypto regulatory framework with forthcoming federal rules and guidelines and, hopefully, create regulatory clarity for businesses and consumers.
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Uniswap and VC Backers Sued For Selling Unregistered Securities
A recent class-action lawsuit alleges that the “Uniswap Protocol” exchange is one of the largest crypto-asset exchanges in the world, which permits the unlawful promotion, offer, and sale of crypto tokens as unregistered securities. According to the complaint, Uniswap has no barriers to entry for users looking to trade or swap crypto tokens on the exchange. It requires no verification of an individual’s identity and conducts no “know-your-customer” (KYC) process, leading to rampant fraud. The complaint further alleges that Uniswap has enriched itself and the other defendants (including its VC backers) by collecting fees for issuers on every transaction executed on the exchange that is not disclosed in a transparent manner, in violation of securities laws. Other allegations are that Uniswap offered and sold unregistered securities throughout the United States on its exchange without registering as a national securities exchange or as a broker-dealer and without there being any registration statements in effect for the tokens it was selling, all in violation of applicable law.
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Tokenization and the Law: Legal Issues with NFTs
As the world economy increasingly goes digital, innovators and existing market participants are finding new ways to tokenize assets and expand upon their uses, particularly with non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs have commonly been used to represent digital art, photos, videos, audio files, collectibles, game items, tickets, and other digital assets, but can also represent virtually any digital or physical asset as well as entitlements (e.g., tickets, subscriptions, exclusive access, etc.).
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When Does Cryptocurrency Mining Create a Taxable Event? IRS Does Not Clarify
A couple rejected a refund settlement offer from the IRS over its tax treatment of tokens they earned from mining. Instead, the couple has sought formal adjudication on the issue from the federal courts. The government has filed a motion to dismiss claiming the issue is moot. The relevant issue is whether tax is due when crypto tokens are mined and awarded to the miners, as the IRS contended, or whether tax is due when the mined tokens are converted to fiat or cryptocurrency or otherwise used.
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President Biden Signs Executive Order Outlining Crypto Policy
On March 9, President Biden signed a highly anticipated executive order outlining his administration’s cryptocurrency policy. We have previously blogged about the Biden administration’s working group on stablecoins and the Federal Reserve’s report on a potential U.S. central bank digital currency (“CBDC”).
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