Square Inc. – a company led by CEO Jack Dorsey of Twitter fame – has announced a new initiative that will allow cryptocurrency and blockchain companies to form and remain innovative without all the hassles and problems associated with patents.
Square Thinks Patents Are Major Burdens
As it stands, patents really get in the way of establishing a company. One startup may form an idea only to find that a patent has been filed on something similar. The competing entity has no desire nor any ambition to create what their patent states will be established. The paper exists only to keep competitors away. This is a serious problem that prevents many firms and businesses from doing their duties and establishing the blockchain space as a legitimate, mainstream arena.
However, Square is introducing what’s known as the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance or COPA, which seeks to make the process a little easier. Rather than establishing patents, the Alliance seeks to ensure that all future blockchain initiatives are open source, meaning they can readily be accessed by all who wish to work on the projects. Anyone can contribute to them and anyone can change them.
In a statement, representatives of Square explained:
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 notion, while risky, does present the true essence of the cryptocurrency space, which for the most part, is primarily community driven. Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency are not designed to bear the presence of middlemen. They are not to be doled out by centralized banks or financial institutions, as they were built to ensure their users garner financial independence.
Thus, why should anyone willing and able to access these currencies or projects – people who are looking to make them better – be denied access?
However, there is some risk in that everything is out in the open for anyone to see and potentially take. The information and data are there for others to utilize in their own projects, which to a degree, is a form of plagiarism or copyright infringement without the formal protections in place.
Easy to Take The Data
Such a scenario occurred last summer when antivirus software mogul John McAfee unveiled his new Ghost Coin, which was allegedly based partly off the privacy coin PIVX. Parts of the Ghost Coin whitepaper were potentially taken from documentation supporting PIVX, and even though representatives of the latter claim that the coin was not open source, both McAfee and members of his team beg to differ. One can see how the idea of open-source material creates something of a problem.
At the same time, large corporations – such as Microsoft – can now share a lot of their cryptocurrency and blockchain findings with smaller firms or businesses operating within the same industry and ultimately help to make the industry stronger and more stable.