Update: Coinbase will be ‘giving back’ BUIDL to the community, despite patent

Major exchange Coinbase reportedly filed a patent for the title BUIDL, a nonsense word related to HODL, which was found out to some controversy, given the word apparently is in common enough use to find it questionable for Coinbase to hold on to it.

On the contrary to concerns that Coinbase was monopolizing the crypto neologism, Coinbase’s CTO has noted that the patent was ‘100% defensive,’ and made to avoid ‘patent trolls’ from taking advantage of the name of an apparently forthcoming product titled BUIDL.

A patent of this variety is relatively cursory, though this is somewhat of an edge case, given that ‘buidl’ is essentially becoming an industry term for creating crypto or blockchain applications. While the word may be common enough on crypto Twitter, courts would likely not consider it common enough to protect it from intellectual property laws, and the possibility of someone profiting off of trademarking the name first.

If Coinbase is to be believed, it won’t get litigious over the name, and won’t come after anyone for using it. Nonetheless, the patent is a healthy reminder that crypto is not the wild west, and exists increasingly in a mainstream legal space. As large crypto corporations gain control over intellectual property and patent rights, crypto may come to be controlled by the few who have the technical skill and resources to file patents. Microsoft, IBM, Bank of America and many others have notably been coming out with series of patents in the US, and the Chinese government continues to issue patents to Chinese national blockchain developers.

While Coinbase supposedly ‘doesn’t believe’ in patents of this sort, these patents are being made not only on blockchain terminology, but much more significantly on technology underlying crypto and blockchain. While cryptocurrency was designed to be decentralized, this means that noone lay claim to its ownership, which puts it at a unique position in terms of what blockchain applications, techniques, and technologies are patentable. 

In a real sense, blockchain and crypto will have an interesting relationship to patent legislation in name and practice depending on how regulators decide to deal with the intellectual property underlying the technology.

Read more: US and Chinese firms top blockchain patent rankings 

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