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Blockchain & The Law: Round Up 21 September 2017

This week


Title:  Token Alliance Launches To Promote Best Practices For ICOs

Author:   Forbes

Date:  18 September 2017


Extract: “Our goal is to come up with best practices for those companies interested in ICOs,” said Dr. Newsome, adding that it will meet regularly with SEC staff and commissioners. “What we’ll do initially is provide basic principles about what we know the SEC or CFTC would be concerned about, given an ICO. It’s difficult because there’s not a black and white ICO methodology. These are all very, very different from [utility tokens] to others. What we don’t want to do is create a 1,000-page document that replicates a whole division of the SEC that’s been developed over 50 years, but start out with common sense guidance.”


Title:  Mark Tamminga on the future of blockchain and legal services

Author:  CBA / ABC National (Canada)

Date:  September 2017


Extract: In June, Gowling WLG announced it was signing on as a founding member of the Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute, to study the emergence of the distributed ledger technology (DLT) behind Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. CBA National caught up with Mark Tamminga, a partner and leader of Innovation Initiatives at the firm in Hamilton, to discuss the impact of blockchain on the legal services industry.


Title:  Legal Guidance on ICOs? Wall Street Blockchain Alliance will Publish Recommendations Soon

Author:  Crowdfund Insider

Date: 19 September 2017


Extract:  Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), the hot crowdfunding market that uses tokenized securities based on cryptocurrencies, is still looking to gain its sea legs. While there have been multiple phenomenal ICOs, like the recent Filecoin home-run that raised over $200 million ($135 million in just one hour), questions linger as to how the legal community should handle these private offerings. The Wall Street Blockchain Alliance (WSBA) is preparing to release guidance as to how the broader community should manage ICOs and the organization has received the assistance of many large law firms to help sort things out.

So who is the WSBA?

The WSBA is an advocacy group for Wall Street in the distributed ledger technology (Blockchain) – cryptocurrency world. It is “a neutral, unbiased steward of education and cooperation between Wall Street firms.” Some of the most prominent law firms around are involved with this group. A short list of the firms represented by certain lawyers include:

  • Debevoise & Plimpton LLP;
  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP;
  • Hogan Lovells US LLP;
  • Holland & Knight LLP;
  • King & Woods Mallesons;
  • Morrison & Foerster LLP;
  • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP;
  • Pepper Hamilton LLP;
  • Polsinelli PC;
  • Thompson Hine LLP; and
  • Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz LLP
  • and there are more…


Title:  SmartOne’s Mission to Establish A Legal-Tech Ecosystem

Author:  BTC Manager

Date:  19 September 2017


Extract: While there has been a boom in blockchain-related projects and a digital gold rush for tokens, abiding by the law and regulations have become secondary. SmartOne wants to motivate stronger legal and regulatory advice for such projects, which so far are unable to reach global capital markets for investment due to the regulatory and compliance pitfalls. SmartOne will also create an ERC20 token. The token, LEGAL (LGL), will act as a gateway to a new legal-tech ecosystem and is available via an initial coin offering starting in October 2017.

Built by a team of legal and technical experts based in Zug, Switzerland, also known as the Crypto Valley, SmartOne’s basic aim is to provide legal services and where best to conduct research in Zug’s agglomeration of blockchain-based businesses. They identify a serious problem; the lack of access to the appropriate legal and regulatory services for blockchain projects to reach their potential.

SmartOne’s team states that the lag of national regulatory systems highlights the need for a new ecosystem focusing on the intersection of cryptocurrency and regulation:


Title:  Courting Bitcoin? Nebraska Ethics Board Gives Lawyers OK to Accept

Author:  CoinDesk

Date:  15 September 2017


Extract:  Lawyers in Nebraska can now accept cryptocurrency as payment, according to a new advisory opinion published by an ethics committee appointed by the state’s supreme court.

The Lawyers’ Advisory Committee is an eight-member body that responds to queries from lawyers in Nebraska, weighing them against the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct. The opinion itself is novel, constituting the first time that a state ethics body has considered a question related to cryptocurrency payments.

According to the advisory, dated September 11, the request focused on three elements: whether an attorney can receive cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as payment; whether directly from a client or from a third party; and whether they can hold cryptocurrencies in escrow or trust on behalf of the client. The answer, the document outlines, is largely yes – with some caveats.


Title:  The creator of Ethereum thinks blockchain tech could steal business from Visa in a ‘couple of years’

Author:   Business Insider

Date:  18 September 2017


Extract:  The ethereum network could pose a real challenge to large financial institutions like Visa as soon as next year, according to Vitalik Buterin, the creator of the ethereum blockchain.

In a Q&A with AngelList founder Naval Ravikant at TechCrunch Disrupt on Monday, Buterin said that security is the biggest challenge to bringing blockchain technologies into the mainstream, and that once it’s sorted out, blockchain tech could steal business or even replace financial institutions like Visa in a “couple of years.”


Title:   Blockchain Industry and Regulatory Leaders Launch Token AllianceChamber of Digital Commerce Develops New Initiative to Promote Best Practices for Burgeoning ICO Ecosystem

Author:  Markets Insider

Date: 18 September 2017


Extract: WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Chamber of Digital Commerce is pleased to announce the Token Alliance, an industry-led initiative to educate, promote and help shape the responsible growth of token and digital asset issuances. The Token Alliance is co-chaired by former Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Dr. Jim Newsome, and former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioner, Paul Atkins.

Token sales or Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) can be a powerful tool for startups and businesses seeking funding through a crowdsale. In 2017 alone, more than 100 token sales raised over $1.5 billion. However, regulatory uncertainty and compliance continues to be a challenge for the industry. The Token Alliance will work with the community to recommend legal frameworks that drive innovation and promote investment, balanced with protections for market participants.


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