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 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 New York
Partner Cleveland
Partner New York
Partner Washington, D.C.
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
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 Philadelphia
Chairman Washington, D.C.
Partner New York
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 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

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In The Blogs

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Blockchain Monitor
Manipulation Detected on ‘DEXes,’ Regulations Develop, Industry Initiatives Advance, Hacks, Money Laundering and Enforcement Continue
April 19, 2019
In this issue: • Academics Detect Manipulation on ‘DEXes’ as Cryptocurrency Trading Expands • New Tokenized Securities Announced; Global Regulatory Regimes Develop • Food Supply Chain Initiatives Grow, Government Spending Expected to Rise...
Read More ->
Blockchain Monitor
Advancements in Blockchain-Powered Property Sales and Energy Grids; New Stablecoins, Payment Products and Enforcement Actions
By Robert A. Musiala Jr., Simone O. Otenaike
April 12, 2019
In this issue: • Blockchain Property Records Trial Completed, Energy Grid Project Continues, New Patents Granted • New Stablecoins Announced, New BitLicense Granted, New Crypto Debit Card Launched • Blockchain Capital Markets Solutions...
Read More ->
Blockchain Monitor
Bitcoin Spikes, SEC Issues Token Guidance, Exchange is Hacked, and More
April 5, 2019
In this issue: • Paying with Crypto: Where to Use Your Crypto and the Recent Surge in its Value • SEC Issues Digital Assets Guidance, Blockchain Regulations Evolve in U.S. and Abroad • South Korean Exchange is Hacked, Canadian Law...
Read More ->
Blockchain Monitor
Blockchain Announcements Across Industries, Cryptocurrency Exchanges Receive Approvals, More Regulatory Actions, More Hacks and Crypto Malware Attacks
March 29, 2019
In this issue: • Adoption of Blockchain Solutions Spreads Across Industries • New Cryptocurrency Exchanges Receive Approvals in US and Foreign Jurisdictions • Enforcement and Regulatory Actions by the US, FATF, Mexico, Finland and...
Read More ->
Blockchain Monitor
New Blockchain Payments Solutions, Business Applications, Investor Opportunities, Regulations and Malware Attacks
March 22, 2019
In this issue: • New Blockchain Payments Solutions Announced for Banks, Merchants and the Unbanked • Cryptocurrency Investors Bullish on New Opportunities Despite Risk and Uncertainty • Blockchain Applications Advance in Food Production...
Read More ->