Coinbase Seeks Patent for Bitcoin Private Key Security System

Stan Higgins
Dec 2, 2016 at 13:51 UTC
Updated Dec 2, 2016 at 13:54 UTC
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Bitcoin and ether exchange startup Coinbase is seeking a patent for a security system for bitcoin private keys.

According to an application published on 24th November by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Coinbase is aiming to patent a “security system forming part of a bitcoin host computer”. Coinbase submitted the application in May of last year, with software engineers Andrew Alness and James Hudon listed as inventors.

The startup, which has raised more than $116m in venture capital to date, has sought other patents in the past. The last few months have seen a flurry of activity on the patent front, as the USPTO has released applications from startups like Blockstream and Digital Asset Holdings, as well as major firms like AT&T and Nasdaq, that are related to the tech.

Coinbase explained in the application:

“It may be a security concern for users that the private keys of their Bitcoin addresses may be stolen from their wallets. Existing systems do not provide a solution for maintaining security over private keys while still allowing the users to checkout on a merchant page and making payments using their wallets.”

When reached for comment, the company pointed to a blog post from September of last year penned by co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong detailing its plans to seek patents “to keep them out of the hands of bad people”.

“We support innovation and development in the space and hope to facilitate through sharing of IP,” Coinbase said in an emailed statement.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Coinbase.

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