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What impact will this have if all the patents he applied for are granted. Could it create liability for Bitcoin developers who attempt to use some of his patented ideas when making future pull requests?

"Since February, Wright has filed more than 50 patent applications in Britain through Antigua-registered EITC Holdings Ltd, which a source close to the company confirmed was connected to Wright, government records show."

"Nearly all the British filings involve the term "blockchain" or its more generic description, the "distributed ledger". The patent approval process typically takes several year"

  • 1
    This might be a good question for patents.stackexchange.com, since it deals with the development of open source software that may use patented processes/algorithms. Also, there's probably more legal expertise there than there is here. – Jestin Jun 21 '16 at 20:19
  • I don't know a ton about patents, but bitcoin was created before the patents. It could be considered prior art and thus be completely un-patentable. There have been so many implementations of blockchains (altcoins included) that should block the majority of these patents. I do think that this question is primarily opinion based and not good for this format. – Mark S. Jun 22 '16 at 2:03
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Searching the http://patents.stackexchange.com site, I found a question that linked here:

http://ask.metafilter.com/216885/What-happens-if-an-opensource-app-intentionally-violates-a-software-patent#3129948

An open source program can infringe a patent just the same as a commercial one. There is no requirement that the infringement be for profit, since infringement may consist of making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing the invention. 35 U.S.C. § 271. Infringement may be direct (i.e. the author making the software) or indirect (e.g. the author distributing it to others intending that they use it in an infringing manner).

What's more, by copying a program knowing that it likely infringes a patent, the open source author may be liable for willful patent infringement. That carries with it the possibility of treble damages and an award of attorney's fees and costs. 35 U.S.C. § 284.

So yes, it appears as though Bitcoin developers could be held liable.

The article also continues to state that it is often not financially feasible for patent holders to go after open source software, since software is global but patents vary country to country. Also, there are not necessarily assets to be won from open source developers.

Personally, I feel that Craig Wright has been applying for patents not to target Bitcoin, but the growing blockchain industry. The banks and financial institutions adopting blockchain solutions do have assets that can be easily won (or settled) with patent suits.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, and am way out of my element with this answer :)

  • If Wright is unable to prove he invented Bitcoin then it's existence would constitute prior art, what are your thoughts on this? – Mark S. Jun 22 '16 at 2:06
  • As I said, I'm not really a good resource for this. All I did was look up a better resource and post it here. Still, I'd hope he didn't get any patents if he doesn't prove that he invented anything. I don't know how the patent office determines such things. – Jestin Jun 22 '16 at 3:25

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