Coinbase Seeks Patent for Bitcoin Private Key Security System

Bitcoin and ether exchange startup Coinbase is seeking a patent for a security system for bitcoin private keys.

AccessTimeIconDec 2, 2016 at 1:51 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:43 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

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.

Image via Shutterstock


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.