Square announces cryptocurrency patent alliance

Square announces cryptocurrency patent alliance

By Sam Grant - min read
Image of jigsaw pieces being assembled

The consortium will pool patents and standardise access to blockchain technologies to improve innovation

The US-based firm that deals with mobile payments and other financial services revealed the consortium would help combat patent trolling. It will also ensure open and democratised access to technologies in the blockchain and crypto space.

This consortium will be called the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance (COPA). According to Square, “open access to patents covering foundational cryptocurrency technologies is necessary for the community to grow, freely innovate, and build new and better products”.

Square’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, who is also Twitter’s co-founder and CEO, announced the launch via a tweet yesterday:

“Square is putting all of our crypto patents into a new non-profit org 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. Join us! #bitcoin.”

Square also explained the ins and outs of COPA in a series of tweets as well.

The participating members will collectively decide to put together crypto and blockchain patents into the consortium’s library. This will provide open access to these technologies built by the contributing companies.

A section of the alliance website explains that, “Cryptocurrency technology and its adoption is still at a nascent stage. We believe that cryptocurrency’s success depends on the community coming together to build and develop upon existing technologies to innovate, which is not possible when parties tie up foundational technology in patents and litigation”.

The alliance aims to change current perspectives of patents and how they’re employed in the crypto sector.  COPA will also push the agenda of patents being used to advance innovation rather than hamper it.

Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group filed for 470 patents last year and reportedly holds the most (2,344) blockchain patents as of April.  Chinese multinational technology conglomerate Tencent filed for 718 patents in 2019.

It is interesting to note that similar efforts to build a joint shield against patent instigators have also been made in the entertainment industry. Damien Riehl and Noah Rubin built a tool that can create almost every melody.

The pair shared their work to the public under Creative Commons Zero license to protect musicians from being sued for copying songs they don’t remember hearing.