On January 14th, 2020, Crowell & Moring hosted a webinar session discussing blockchain and its implications for trade secret protection, as well as its potential implications on other areas of intellectual property (IP).

Introduced by Crowell & Moring partner Mark Klapow, attorneys Josh Rychlinski and Kayvan Ghaffari explained general principles of trade secret law, general principles of blockchain, and discussed how blockchain could be used to protect trade secrets, as well as other forms of intellectual property.

Below are a few key points participants took away from the discussion:

  • Blockchain offers an immutable record of transactions, which could be particularly useful for transactional history regarding a trade secret. Each transaction contains several pieces of information, including a timestamp, which is important for proving authorship and time of creation.
  • Blockchain’s unique combination of cryptography and hashing, when used on a private blockchain (as opposed to a public blockchain), could be construed as a “reasonable measure” of protecting a trade secret under applicable law. Crowell will continue monitoring the legal wires to see how courts ultimately rule on this issue.
  • Blockchain is decentralized, meaning that there are as many points of failure as there are users of the chain. This is in stark contrast to centralized systems, which often have only a limited amount of failure points, such as a primary server and a backup.
  • Blockchain’s immutability has other relevance in IP, such as in establishing a priority date in a patent context, authorship in a copyright context, or use in commerce in the trademark context.

If you missed the live discussion, you can listen to a recording here.