The Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance (COPA) is a non-profit community of like-minded people and companies formed to encourage the adoption and advancement of cryptocurrency technologies and to remove patents as a barrier to growth and innovation. COPA acknowledges that cryptocurrency technology is built on the collaborative efforts of a community made up of developers, engineers, and designers. The success of cryptocurrency is a direct result of the community coming together to build and develop upon existing technologies for the benefit of all, and we believe COPA will help this happen.Crypto organizations have filed for hundreds of patents on cryptocurrency technology and continue to do so in large numbers, causing some concerns:
Locking up foundational cryptocurrency technologies in patents stifles innovation and the adoption of these technologies in new and improved applications.
While patents are useful defensively and can serve as a lawsuit deterrent, misguided and offensive use of patents by bad actors threatens the growth and free availability of cryptocurrency technologies. Many crypto companies do not own patents and are unable to adequately deter or defend against these bad actors.
COPA provides an open patent strategy to address these concerns. Anyone can join and benefit from COPA, regardless of whether they have patents or not. There is no barrier to entry – members can be individuals, start-ups, small companies, or large corporations. This is how COPA works:
First, COPA members pledge never to use their crypto-technology patents against anyone, except for defensive reasons, effectively making their patents freely available for all to use.
Second, members pool all of their crypto-technology patents together to form a shared patent library. This collective shield of patents provides members access to each others’ patents to deter and defend against patent aggressors, thereby empowering every member, regardless of whether they individually own patents or not, with tools and leverage to defend themselves against patent aggressors.
The patent pledge and the shared patent library will work in tandem to help drive down the incidence and threat of patent litigation, benefiting the cryptocurrency community as a whole. The patent pledge removes the threat of patents from being used offensively in litigation, while the shared patent library operates as a shield for COPA members to use against patent aggressors.
COPA will be governed by a board of nine members – three members from the crypto and open source community who work towards making crypto better and available for everyone; three members from the founding companies; and three members from the remaining membership. We will appoint board members based on consultation with the community and the founding members.