The Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance, or COPA, led by finance company Square, recently picked Coinbase as a cornerstone participant. Square revealed the group in September as a method to fend off the overreach of patents – a problem known to limit technological progress.
Coinbase Senior Advisor and COPA Board Member Brittany Cuthbert said in a public statement from the alliance on Friday:
“As the crypto economy continues to grow, we believe it is important to help strengthen all projects that build an open financial system. […] We look forward to working with the members of COPA to create a fundamental patent shield for our industry. “
Patents, which last for 20 years, essentially claim innovations that are considered proprietary, which prevents competitors from producing similar products or services or using certain technology. While open-source technology is a common theme in the crypto and blockchain industry, several entities have applied for patents for certain claims in space, including Block.one and Samsung.
The statement further explained:
“COPA believes the success of cryptocurrency depends on the community coming together to build and develop on existing technologies to innovate, which is not possible when parties connect fundamental technology in patents and lawsuits.”
Patents do have value in the world, COPA believes, although borders can be crossed, causing problems. “While patents can sometimes be useful for defensive purposes, offensive and inappropriate use of patents threatens the growth and adoption of emerging technologies such as cryptocurrencies,” the statement read. “There is concern that ‘patent lockup’ of fundamental cryptocurrency technologies will stifle innovation by a select few and discourage mass adoption.”
About 12 years ago pseudonymous Bitcoin (BTC) creator Satoshi Nakamoto published their now infamous white paper. The revolution that followed was probably made possible in part by the open-source underpinnings of the technology outlined.
“COPA strives to make fundamental cryptocurrency technology available for everyone to use freely and addresses the problem of patent jamming with a dual approach,” the statement said.
COPA currently has 18 members: Square, Coinbase, Blockstream, Kraken and 14 others. Members abide by code, which means they refrain from using “their crypto patents against anyone except for defensive reasons.”