As global business and commerce increasingly depend on technology, it is more critical than ever for that technology to ensure quick, secure, reliable, efficient and transparent access to data. Blockchain technology provides a shared, immutable ledger that enables the recording of transactions and tracking of tangible (e.g., cash, real estate) and intangible (e.g., intellectual property) assets over a secure business network instead of in a centralized database. Along with other distributed ledger technologies, blockchain increases efficiency, protects valuable information and mitigates risk, potentially revolutionizing how we conduct business across nearly all sectors.
As more and more transactions are conducted and assets are accumulated on blockchains or other distributed ledger technologies, the process of conducting business across nearly all sectors is evolving and inevitable questions arise about the legal implications, including risk management, privacy and regulatory concerns regarding the use of blockchain technology for smart contracts, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized autonomous organizations and decentralized finance.
While nearly anything of value can be tracked or traded using blockchain technology, it currently is most widely used as the backbone for cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. A blockchain network can also be used to track things such as orders, payments, accounts and production. New applications for this technology are evolving daily and will present both exciting opportunities and unique legal challenges for organizations in a broad range of industries, including financial services, insurance, health care, professional services, manufacturing, energy, sports and entertainment.
Our multidisciplinary team of lawyers understands blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies and their benefits and potential consequences for businesses. We offer valuable insight to companies beginning or expanding their use of these technologies or looking to develop new applications.
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, are virtual, digital monies that have no government or central bank backing. Since their first appearance around 2009, they have gained broader acceptance and seen expanded use. Today, many mainstream businesses accept cryptocurrencies as payment for goods and services, and those that don’t are considering the possibility. Active exchange markets have been established to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies against traditional currencies.
The use of cryptocurrencies raises complex legal issues of regulatory compliance, valuation, and management protocols and controls, among other considerations. Businesses considering entering this space will need sophisticated and knowledgeable legal counsel to navigate these cutting-edge technologies. Similarly, banks, broker-dealers, investment funds and other financial institutions will need legal counsel who know how to manage risks and ensure compliance with rapidly changing cryptocurrency technology and regulations.
Our Blockchain Technology group is at the forefront of law firms providing counsel on the complex constellation of legal questions inherent in the cryptocurrency environment.
Our experience in advising public and private businesses, including financial institutions, banks, broker-dealers, investment advisers, funds and retail businesses, on all aspects of their business, operations and financial affairs, including counseling on regulatory compliance and risk management, puts us in a unique position to provide guidance on blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, smart contracts and NFTs. An illustrative sampling of our experience includes:
- Advising private funds, investment advisers and commodity pool operators in the crypto space.
- Counseling advisers seeking to invest in cryptocurrencies on behalf of their clients.
- Providing guidance on the formation of appropriate pooled investment vehicles.
- Facilitating proprietary token/coin sales and registered and unregistered digital rights offerings.
- Counseling on the development of new digital currencies, NFTs and regulatory concerns.
- Advising on mining activities and related software development.
- Providing guidance on the protection of intellectual property.
- Advising on general corporate matters, including private company formation and structure and operational issues.
- Providing strategic counseling to mature and early-stage technology ventures and established businesses adopting electronic and technologically advanced means of competition.
- Defending parties in proceedings initiated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service, New York Stock Exchange, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, congressional committees and states’ attorneys general, among others.
Privacy & Technology
- Advising on cybersecurity and privacy issues.
- Assisting clients in developing, implementing, managing and monitoring enterprise-wide, global privacy and data security policies, programs and protocols.
- Advising on the trans-border transfer of sensitive personal data, including data transfers from and to European Union operations in connection with mergers and acquisitions, human resource operations, IT systems and other contexts.
- Representing companies in litigation growing out of data cyberattacks and ransomware.
- Counseling companies on maintaining and operating legal compliance programs, including confidential whistleblower mechanisms, in the face of conflicting global privacy laws.
- Litigating federal and state privacy and internet matters.
- Counseling on records retention and data destruction plans.
- Assisting with ransomware responses, including leading investigations into cyberattacks, engaging third-party IT consultants and ransomware negotiators, counseling on making crypto payments to malicious cyber actors and potential sanctions issues, and advising on data breach notification obligations.
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