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. We are 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
Partner Los Angeles
Partner New York
Associate New York
Patent Attorney Philadelphia
Chief Information Officer
Chief Information Officer Cleveland
Counsel Washington, D.C.
Partner New York
Senior Advisor Washington, D.C.
Partner New York
Partner New York
Partner Cleveland
Partner New York
Partner Washington, D.C.
Counsel New York
Partner Cleveland
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner Cincinnati
Partner Atlanta
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
Partner New York
Partner Philadelphia
Chairman Washington, D.C.
Partner New York
Partner New York
Partner New York
Partner Cleveland
Partner Cleveland
Partner New York
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

  • BTI Cybersecurity Powerhouse (2020)
  • BTI CyberSavvy Law Firm (2020)
  • Chambers Global
    • Privacy & Data Security (USA) (2014 to 2020)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Healthcare Spotlight Table – Nationwide (2018 to 2020)
  • Chambers Fintech
    • Legal – USA (2018 to 2020)
  • Chambers USA
    • Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory – Nationwide (2018 to 2020)
    • Privacy & Data Security – Nationwide (2013 to 2020)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Healthcare Spotlight Table – Nationwide (2018 to 2020)
  • Chambers USA Award: “Privacy & Data Security Team of the Year” finalist (2015, 2017)
  • The Legal 500 United States
    • Media, Technology and Telecoms: Advertising and Marketing: Transactional and Regulatory (2018 to 2020)
    • Media, Technology and Telecoms: Cyber Law (2016 to 2020)
    • Media, Technology and Telecoms: Data Privacy and Data Protection (2016 to 2020)
  • Law360: Privacy "Practice Group of the Year" (2013 to 2015, 2018)

News

News

Press Releases

Publications

Alerts

Articles

Blog Posts

Blog

In The Blogs

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Blockchain Monitor
Crypto-Focused Bank Achieves Approval in Wyoming, US HHS Implements Blockchain, NY Challenge to OCC Fintech Charter Continues, ICO Issuer Charged in Fraud Scheme
By Robert A. Musiala Jr., Marc D. Powers, Veronica Reynolds, Joanna F. Wasick
July 31, 2020
In this issue: • Crypto-Focused Bank Approved in Wyoming, Initiatives Advance in Foreign Markets • US HHS Implements Blockchain; Clothing, Food and Shipping Platforms Expand • NY Challenges OCC Fintech Charter in 2nd Circuit, Fintech...
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Blockchain Monitor
New York Appellate Court Confirms Attorney General's Broad Investigative Powers into the Cryptocurrency Industry
By Jonathan A. Forman, Teresa Goody Guillén, Robert A. Musiala Jr.
July 15, 2020
On July 9, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department (First Department) issued a significant decision in James v. iFinex that confirmed the broad authority of the New York State Attorney General (NYAG) to...
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Blockchain Monitor
Blockchain Solutions Announced, U.S. Fund Announces Digital Securities, FATF Issues Crypto Reports, U.S. Court Addresses Bitcoin Privacy, Enforcement Actions Continue
By Teresa Goody Guillén, Veronica Reynolds, Jordan R. Silversmith, Joanna F. Wasick
July 10, 2020
In this issue: • Blockchain Solutions Announced in Auto, Shipping, Medical and Aid Sectors • Fund Issuing Digital Securities Obtains SEC Registration, Bitcoin ETP Lists on Xetra • FATF Issues Crypto Reports, U.S. Court Addresses Bitcoin...
Read More ->
Blockchain Monitor
Canada's Largest Cryptocurrency Exchange Found to Have Operated Like a Ponzi Scheme
By Teresa Goody Guillén, Michelle N. Tanney
June 30, 2020
On June 11, 2020 the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), one of Canada’s provincial securities regulators, issued a report finding that QuadrigaCX (Quadriga), which went into bankruptcy a few months after founder and CEO Gerald Cotten was...
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Blockchain Monitor
Blockchain Food Tracing Initiatives Add Members, Report Addresses Central Bank Digital Currencies, NY DFS Publishes Crypto Guidance, Enforcement Actions Continue
By Robert A. Musiala Jr., Veronica Reynolds, Jordan R. Silversmith, Joanna F. Wasick
June 26, 2020
In this issue: • Seafood Association, Restaurant Chain Announce Blockchain Supply Chain Partnerships • Sweden Report Addresses Central Bank Digital Currencies, Fintech Firms Explore Crypto • NY DFS and UK FCA Publish Crypto Guidance, Firms...
Read More ->