Getting to Know the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance (COPA)

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Why is there a need for a patent protection alliance for cryptocurrency technologies?

With the recent surge in popularity of cryptocurrencies and related technologies, Square felt an industry group was needed to protect against litigation and other threats against core cryptocurrency technology and ensure the ecosystem remains vibrant and open for developers and companies.

The same way Open Invention Network (OIN) and LOT Network add a layer of patent protection to inter-company collaboration on open source technologies, COPA aims to protect open source cryptocurrency technology. Feeling safe from the threat of lawsuits is a precursor to good collaboration.

  • Locking up foundational cryptocurrency technologies in patents stifles innovation and adoption of cryptocurrency in novel and useful applications.
  • The offensive use of patents threatens the growth and free availability of cryptocurrency technologies. Many smaller companies and developers do not own patents and cannot deter or defend threats adequately.

By joining COPA, a member can feel secure it can innovate in the cryptocurrency space without fear of litigation between other members. 

What is Square’s involvement in COPA?

Square’s core purpose is economic empowerment, and they see cryptocurrency as a core technological pillar. Square helped start and fund COPA with the hope that by encouraging innovation in the cryptocurrency space, more useful ideas and products would get created. COPA management has now diversified to an independent board of technology and regulatory experts, and Square maintains a minority presence.

Do we need cryptocurrency patents to join COPA? 

No! Anyone can join and benefit from being a member of COPA, regardless of whether they have patents or not. There is no barrier to entry – members can be individuals, start-ups, small companies, or large corporations. Here is how COPA works:

  • First, COPA members pledge never to use their crypto-technology patents against anyone, except for defensive reasons, effectively making their patents freely available for all.
  • Second, members pool all of their crypto-technology patents together to form a shared patent library, which provides a forum to allow members to reasonably negotiate lending patents to one another for defensive purposes.
  • The patent pledge and the shared patent library work in tandem to help drive down the incidence and threat of patent litigation, benefiting the cryptocurrency community as a whole. 
  • Additionally, COPA monitors core technologies and entities that support cryptocurrency and does its best to research and help address litigation threats against community members.

What types of companies should join COPA?

  • Financial services companies and technology companies working in regulated industries that use distributed ledger or cryptocurrency technology
  • Companies or individuals who are interested in collaborating on developing cryptocurrency products or who hold substantial investments in cryptocurrency

What companies have joined COPA so far?

  • Square, Inc.
  • Blockchain Commons
  • Carnes Validadas
  • Request Network
  • Foundation Devices
  • ARK
  • SatoshiLabs
  • Transparent Systems
  • Horizontal Systems
  • VerifyChain
  • Blockstack
  • Protocol Labs
  • Cloudeya Ltd.
  • Mercury Cash
  • Bithyve
  • Coinbase
  • Blockstream
  • Stakenet

How to join

Please express interest and get access to our membership agreement here: https://opencrypto.org/joining-copa/