On March 16, 2017, at the DC Blockchain Summit 2017 held in Washington, D.C., the Chamber of Digital Commerce announced the formation of the Blockchain Intellectual Property Council (BIPC), which will focus on promoting innovation for both blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) by addressing intellectual property (IP) issues. The council will try to maintain the openness of the technology while it works to help protect proprietary information.
"Balancing the open source mindset with proprietary technology is an early and critical challenge faced by the blockchain community," said Patrick Murck, Special Counsel at Cooley LLP and Fellow at Berkman Klein Center at Harvard, and one of the co-chairs of the BIPC. "An effective solution must be constructed with input from experts in both law and technology -- with an eye to preserving opportunities for permissionless innovation."
James Murdock, VP Corporate Development & General Counsel at Blockstream and another co-chair of the BIPC, expressed similar sentiments: "Openness and collaboration are crucial to ensuring that permissionless innovation both thrives and evolves. Preserving these elements as the industry develops will be key to the success of the blockchain ecosystem."
The Chamber says that over 40 institutions across different sectors have already committed themselves to this initiative, such as: Blockstream, Bloq, Civic, Cognizant, Deloitte, Digital Currency Group, Ernst & Young, Gem, Medici Ventures, Microsoft, T0.com, TMX, and Wipfli.
Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, gave a speech at the DC Summit in which she stated that the BIPC co-chairs in guiding the council will be addressing IP from a “high stake corner process.” Boring also mentioned that academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and “standard-setting bodies” will also be participating in the BIPC.
The Chamber of Digital Commerce’s announcement comes after recent efforts to strengthen their presence and advocacy for digital assets and blockchain technology by adding over 20 leading companies across the financial, law, and technology sectors to its membership.
“Our expanding membership is a testament to the impact blockchain technology is already having across multiple industries,” said Boring. “The unique perspectives, skills and experiences that these new members bring to the table will be key in furthering the understanding and adoption of distributed ledger technology.”
A kickoff meeting for the BIPC is scheduled for March 30, 2017. It’s encouraged that academics, blockchain technologists, financial institutions, IP experts, open source community members, and anyone else interested in intellectual property issues sign up to participate.
"Many players are aggressively pursuing patents in the DLT space, and managing patent risk must be a shared priority," said Marc Kaufman, Partner at Rimon Law, and the third co-chair of the BIPC.