Blockchain Technologies and Digital Currencies

Overview

We help clients navigate the broad array of legal issues presented by transformative blockchain technology and the rise of digital currencies. BakerHostetler is a leader in advising clients who are deploying blockchain-enabled solutions or developing or using virtual currencies – whether they are integrating the technologies into established operations, re-engineering business practices, or creating new and disruptive applications.

Our clients include businesses and not-for-profit organizations from startups to Fortune 100 companies in local, national and international arenas. Our attorneys collaborate across practice groups to provide practical advice on how to maximize the opportunities presented by the technologies while steering clear of pitfalls in a rapidly evolving legal landscape. We help clients understand how current laws and regulations apply to these technologies, plan or advocate for changes in the regulatory environment, and provide thoughtful insight to companies integrating these technologies into existing and prospective product and service offerings.

Our team understands how and when a cryptocurrency may be a currency, a security, a network utility or a commodity, and the legal and regulatory implications of such designations. We help clients design smart contracts and work with them through the myriad legal issues that arise in initial coin offerings (ICOs) or token generating events (TGEs), including corporate and securities matters, tax issues, and other regulatory hurdles. We also advise clients on privacy and security issues specific to blockchain technologies and digital currencies, including cyber incident response, and represent industry clients in federal and state enforcement actions.

BakerHostetler is also a national leader in the drive to adopt blockchain technology and standardize its use in the legal industry and beyond. The firm is a founding steward of the Sovrin Network, the only global identity infrastructure that supports self-sovereign identity using a purpose-built distributed ledger at its core. We are also active members of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Legal Working Group and the Accord project, both of which exist to develop standards and protocols to facilitate the legally defensible adoption of blockchain related technologies such as smart (computational) contracts. 

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We collaborate with clients to identify areas in which blockchain technologies will drive changes in existing laws and regulations to accommodate their use in corporate governance, privacy and digital identity, and regulatory oversight, as well as in execution of contractual agreements and maintenance of healthcare and employment records.

Our attorneys provide blockchain and digital currency-related guidance in the following areas:
  • Anti-money laundering and “Know Your Customer” compliance
  • Corporate structures
  • Cryptocurrencies and tokens
  • Cybersecurity
  • Digital identity
  • Government relations
  • Hedge funds
  • Initial coin offerings (ICOs)
  • Intellectual property
  • Litigation, including class action defense
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Not-for-profits/foundations/charitable organizations
  • Privacy issues
  • Securities regulation and enforcement
  • “Smart contracts”
  • Startup companies
  • State money transmitter licensing
  • Supply chain and “provenance”
  • Tax strategies – U.S. and international
  • Technology transactions
  • Venture capital
  • White collar defense and investigations
The industries we serve include:
  • Advertising
  • Energy
  • Financial services
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Manufacturing
  • Real estate
  • Technology

Select Experience

Securities Law and Financial Services Regulation
  • Counseling multiple companies regarding the evolving regulatory landscape for token generating events such as ICOs.
  • Advising multiple cryptocurrency industry clients on Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act; federal and state money services business registration; Bank Secrecy Act compliance; and consumer protection, privacy and cybersecurity matters.
  • Serving as outside general counsel to a next-phase blockchain company, including advice on intellectual property, employment, corporate and other matters.
  • Representing a blockchain startup in responding to an SEC subpoena related to a prior ICO.
  • Representing a startup seeking to build a blockchain-based securities exchange regulated under Reg ATS.
Government Relations
  • Provided government relations guidance to a prominent blockchain-enabled global payments company regarding federal and state legislative, regulatory and policy issues.
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Professionals

Name Title Office Email
Associate New York
Associate Cincinnati
Partner Los Angeles
Counsel New York
Partner New York
Associate New York
Associate Philadelphia
Chief Information Officer
Chief Information Officer Cleveland
Counsel Washington, D.C.
Partner New York
Senior Advisor Washington, D.C.
Counsel New York
Partner New York
Partner Cleveland
Partner New York
Partner Washington, D.C.
Counsel New York
Partner Seattle
Partner Cleveland
Associate Philadelphia
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner Cincinnati
Partner Atlanta
Partner Washington, D.C.
Senior Advisor Washington, D.C.
Partner Seattle
Partner Cleveland
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner New York
Director of Practice Services
Director of Practice Services Cincinnati
Partner New York
Of Counsel New York
Partner New York
Associate New York
Counsel Chicago
Associate Houston
Partner Philadelphia
Partner New York
Counsel Philadelphia
Partner Washington, D.C.
Associate New York
Partner New York
Partner Philadelphia
Chairman Washington, D.C.
Partner New York
Counsel Seattle
Partner New York
Partner New York
Legal Innovation Designer
Legal Innovation Designer New York
Partner Cleveland
Partner Cleveland
Partner New York
Partner Atlanta

Experience

Securities Law and Financial Services Regulation
  • Counseling multiple companies regarding the evolving regulatory landscape for token generating events such as ICOs.
  • Advising multiple cryptocurrency industry clients on Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act; federal and state money services business registration; Bank Secrecy Act compliance; and consumer protection, privacy and cybersecurity matters.
  • Serving as outside general counsel to a next-phase blockchain company, including advice on intellectual property, employment, corporate and other matters.
  • Representing a blockchain startup in responding to an SEC subpoena related to a prior ICO.
  • Representing a startup seeking to build a blockchain-based securities exchange regulated under Reg ATS.
Government Relations
  • Provided government relations guidance to a prominent blockchain-enabled global payments company regarding federal and state legislative, regulatory and policy issues.
Digital Identity, Privacy and Data Protection
  • Advising prominent blockchain digital identity companies on strategies for achieving compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • Guided a digital currency platform services provider’s response to a multimillion-dollar cybertheft of bitcoin, including:
    • Incident response
    • Crisis communications
    • Interactions with compromised exchange
    • Client cybersecurity practices and personnel
    • Pre-litigation counseling and preparation
  • Advised a digital currency industry client on response to cybertheft of data and attempted extortion.
Intellectual Property
  • Providing patent prosecution and intellectual property advice to a distributed ledger platform client.
  • Prepared and filed patent applications covering foundational blockchain technologies and application-level technologies layered on blockchain platforms.
  • Collaborated with technologists to develop an intellectual property strategy to protect emerging blockchain-based technologies, including trademark, patent, copyright and trade secret strategies.
Industry-specific Blockchain Advice
  • Representing a major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange in a tax controversy matter.
  • Fund formation and ongoing outside general counsel services for a global blockchain consulting firm.
  • Advising a high net worth individual on cryptocurrency asset recovery and tax compliance.
  • Engaged in discussions on blockchain solutions for the real estate industry with various stakeholders, including government entities, blockchain technology startups and industry representatives.
  • Advised a major financial services company on developing and offering blockchain-enabled products and services, including intellectual property, technology transactions, cybersecurity and data protection issues.
  • Counseling several advertising industry clients on the use of blockchain technology in adtech, including issues related to patents, incentive and reward programs, and use of cryptocurrencies.
  • Participating in ongoing meetings hosted by a major global technology firm related to blockchain supply chain solutions and other enterprise use cases.
  • Participated on a panel of academic, technology and privacy/cybersecurity leaders advising tech and government sectors on the use of blockchain technologies to secure and streamline elections.

Recognition

  • Chambers USA: Nationwide Privacy & Data Security (2013 to 2018)
    • Chambers USA Privacy and Data Security - Healthcare Spotlight Table (2018)
  • Chambers USA: Intellectual Property
    • Georgia (2018)
      • Band 4
    • Ohio (2018)
      • Band 2
    • Pennsylvania (2018)
      • Band 1
    • Recognized Practitioner: Intellectual Property Litigation in District of Columbia (2018).
    • Recognized Practitioner: Intellectual Property Patent Prosecution in District of Columbia (2018).
    • Recognized Practitioner: Intellectual Property Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets in New York (2018). 
  • Chambers Fintech: Legal – USA (2018)
    • Band 4
  • Member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Legal Working Group

  • Recognized as one of the top law firms for client service, BakerHostetler was named to the 2019 BTI Client Service 30 for the fifth consecutive year.

News

News

Press Releases

Publications

Alerts

Articles

Videos

Blog Posts

Key Contacts

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In The Blogs

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Blockchain Monitor
UNICEF Launches Crypto Fund, Class Action Alleges Price Manipulation, US Enforcement Continues, More Ransomware and Hacks
By Robert A. Musiala Jr., Simone O. Otenaike, Joanna F. Wasick
October 11, 2019
In this issue: • Crypto and Blockchain Capital Markets News From UNICEF, Europe and Hong Kong • Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Payment Applications Introduced Across Jurisdictions • Class-Action Suit Filed Against Bitfinex/Tether, US...
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Blockchain Monitor
Alert: IRS Issues New Guidance and FAQs on Virtual Currencies
By J. Brian Davis, Laura E. Jehl, Nicholas C. Mowbray, Robert A. Musiala Jr., Elizabeth Ann Smith
October 10, 2019
On Oct. 9, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued additional guidance regarding the taxation of cryptocurrency. The guidance comes more than five years after the IRS issued Notice 2014-21, the first and, until now, only official...
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Blockchain Monitor
Invoices Paid on Ethereum, FINRA Application Approved, SEC/ICO Enforcement, Industry Launches Compliance Initiative
By Brian P. Bartish, Jonathan D. Blattmachr, Robert A. Musiala Jr.
October 4, 2019
In this issue: • Smart Contracts Deployed by Icelandic Retailer, Blockchain for Sneakers and DHS • Cryptocurrency Service Providers Target Mainstream Investors, FINRA Application Approved • SEC, DOJ and State Agency Enforcement Actions for...
Read More ->
Blockchain Monitor
Interbank Settlement Initiative and Crypto Payment Solutions Expand, SEC and International Enforcement Actions Continue
By Robert A. Musiala Jr., Marc D. Powers, Joanna F. Wasick
September 20, 2019
In this issue: • Blockchain Developments in Interbank Settlement, Capital Markets, Cryptocurrency Payments • Multiple SEC Enforcement Actions, New Treasury Sanctions, More Crypto-Mining Malware Detected • International Crypto Developments...
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Blockchain Monitor
Blockchain Continues to Disrupt Across Industries, Cryptocurrency Services Expand, Malware Threats Identified
By Robert A. Musiala Jr., Simone O. Otenaike, Diana J. Stern
September 13, 2019
In this issue: • Blockchain Clearing, Settlement, Custody and Capital Markets Developments • Cryptocurrency Exchanges and Payment Applications Continue to Expand Services • Blockchain Pilots for Mortgages, Recycling, Supply Chain and...
Read More ->