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 cryptocurrency transactions and token-generating events such as initial coin offerings (ICOs).
  • Advising multiple cryptocurrency industry clients on Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA); state money transmitter licensing; money services business (MSB) registration under U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) regulations; Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance; and consumer protection, privacy and cybersecurity matters.
  • Serving as “outside general counsel” to next-phase blockchain company, including advice on token generating event, intellectual property, employment, corporate and other matters.
  • Representing a blockchain startup in responding to an SEC subpoena regarding a prior ICO event.

Government Relations

  • Providing government relations guidance to a prominent blockchain-enabled global payments company regarding federal and state legislative, regulatory and policy issues relating to digital currencies.
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Professionals

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

Experience

Securities Law and Financial Services Regulation

  • Counseling multiple companies regarding cryptocurrency transactions and token-generating events such as initial coin offerings (ICOs).
  • Advising multiple cryptocurrency industry clients on Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA); state money transmitter licensing; money services business (MSB) registration under U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) regulations; Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance; and consumer protection, privacy and cybersecurity matters.
  • Serving as “outside general counsel” to next-phase blockchain company, including advice on token generating event, intellectual property, employment, corporate and other matters.
  • Representing a blockchain startup in responding to an SEC subpoena regarding a prior ICO event.

Government Relations

  • Providing government relations guidance to a prominent blockchain-enabled global payments company regarding federal and state legislative, regulatory and policy issues relating to digital currencies.

Digital Identity, Privacy and Data Protection

  • Advising a prominent blockchain digital identity and token exchange startups 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
  • Advising a prominent digital identity solution foundation regarding privacy, cybersecurity and other legal issues.
  • 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 an advanced distributed ledger platform client.
  • Prepared and filed patent applications covering foundational blockchain technologies and application-level technologies layered on blockchain platforms.
  • Performed diligence on emerging technologies including technology review, commercialization plan review, prior art study and freedom to operate.
  • Collaborated with technologists to develop an intellectual property strategy to protect emerging technologies, including trademark, patent, copyright and trade secret strategies relating to blockchain technologies.

Industry-specific Blockchain Advice

  • 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.
  • Counseled an advertising industry client on use of blockchain technology in adtech, including issues related to patents, incentive and reward programs, and use of cryptocurrencies.
  • As a member of a panel of academic, technology and privacy/cybersecurity leaders, advised tech and government sectors on 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). 
  • Recognized as one of the top law firms for client service, we were named to the 2018 BTI Client Service 30 for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Legal Working Group

News

News

Press Releases

Key Contacts

Blog

In The Blogs

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The Blockchain Monitor
Blockchain Developments: NY AG Issues Report, Major Japanese Exchange Hacked, Global Attitudes Diverge and Use Cases for Social Good Emerge
By John C. McIlwee, Robert A. Musiala Jr., Simone O. Otenaike, Diana J. Stern
September 21, 2018
In this issue: • New York Attorney General Issues Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative Report • Major Hack of Japanese Exchange, Multiple U.S. Enforcement Actions • Blockchain Capital Markets Solutions Advance, Global Regulations Diverge •...
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The Blockchain Monitor
Stablecoins Launch in US Amid Multiple Securities Enforcement Actions and Bid to Repurpose DoD Data Center for Cryptocurrency Mining
By Brian P. Bartish, Melonia A. Bennett, Njeri S. Chasseau, Robert A. Musiala Jr., Jaime B. Petenko
September 14, 2018
In this issue: • Stablecoins Launch in US as New Data Cites Drop in ICO Funding • SEC and FINRA Issue First-of-Their-Kind Enforcement Actions • Blockchain Enterprise Developments: Mining, Digital Identities and Food Supply Chain •...
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The Blockchain Monitor
Blockchain Developments: Payments, Capital Markets, Enterprise and Patents
By Brian P. Bartish, Jonathan D. Blattmachr, Robert A. Musiala Jr.
September 7, 2018
In this issue: • Payments and Capital Markets Blockchain Developments Continue to Progress • Industry and Government Continue to Champion Blockchain Pilots • Newly Released List Ranks Companies with the Most Blockchain Patent Filings...
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The Blockchain Monitor
Blockchain Capital Markets Offerings and Executive Attitudes Evolve, Threats Continue
By Brian P. Bartish, Robert A. Musiala Jr., Simone O. Otenaike, Jaime B. Petenko
August 31, 2018
In this issue: • New Blockchain Trading Platforms and Capital Markets Offerings Announced • Blockchain Executive Surveys Released, More Pilots and Investments Announced • Update: Cryptocurrency Cybercrimes and ICO Enforcement Actions •...
Read More ->
The Blockchain Monitor
U.S. Customs Pilots Blockchain, SEC Rejects Bitcoin ETFs, Governments' Investment and Enforcement Actions Continue
By John C. McIlwee, Simone O. Otenaike, Jaime B. Petenko, Joanna F. Wasick
August 24, 2018
In this issue: • U.S. Customs Pilots Blockchain for Supply Chain as Private Sector Pilots Continue • The SEC Rejects Bitcoin ETFs; New Exchanges and Services Announced Abroad • Governments Worldwide Continue to Invest in Blockchain...
Read More ->