Bitcoin services firm Coinbase has filed nine patent applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The USPTO – the agency responsible for issuing patents to investors and businesses as well as registering product and intellectual property trademarks – received the submissions on 17th March this year.
According to the filings, published this month, Coinbase submitted patent applications for various products including a hot bitcoin wallet, an instant exchange (which the company launched in June), a bitcoin exchange, a bitcoin tipping button alongside two off- and on-blockchain transaction systems.
Although published by the USPTO, Coinbase's applications are still pending approval, a process which Eitan Jankelewitz, a solicitor at London-based law firm Sheridans, said can take years.
He told CoinDesk:
"The process seeks to establish that the invention is patentable (some things, such as abstract ideas, aren't patentable). Then the 'novelty' of the invention is considered – if the invention was known/or available to the public, it won't be patentable. It has to be new."
The USPTO process also allows the public to oppose patents if they believe the application in question is not justified.
Speaking to the bitcoin community on Reddit, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong defended the company's decision to file for patent protection, an often contentious subject in the largely open-source community.
Armstrong further told CoinDesk that the intent is not for the patents to be used to push out smaller competitors.
"While it would be irresponsible for Coinbase not to apply for patents (we need to protect ourselves from larger companies engaging in patent warfare), we can certainly commit to not using patents offensively against smaller companies," he said.
The CEO went on to say that while he does not personally believe in software patents, the company would invest effort in ensuring it would "play nice" while navigating the realities of the patent space.
Patents in crypto
Coinbase – which has raised $106.7m in venture funding to date – is not the only company applying for crypto-related patents.
Just yesterday, CoinDesk reported that the USPTO had published a patent filed by US financial services giant Bank of America which attempted to protect a cryptocurrency-based wire system.
Additional crypto-related patent applications have been submitted by the likes of Mastercard and IBM, while online shopping giant Amazon was awarded a bitcoin-related cloud computing patent in May last year.
Hat tip: Brian Cohen/Let's Talk Bitcoin.
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