We are pleased to announce that Coinbase has joined Square, Inc as a founding board member of COPA, the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance. Coinbase will join Square to carry COPA’s mission forward, educate the community and drive membership, and establish and administer COPA’s policies.

COPA also announced the board appointments of Steve Lee, Square Crypto Lead whose work is dedicated to contributing to bitcoin open-source work for the benefit of all, and Dan Robinson, Paradigm Research Partner focused on crypto investments and research into open-source protocols. The independent board members are experts in the community who are well-known for their contributions to the advancement of cryptocurrency initiatives.

“As the crypto economy continues to grow, we believe it is important to help empower all projects building towards an open financial system,” said Brittany Cuthbert, COPA Board Member and Senior Counsel at Coinbase. “We look forward to working alongside the members of COPA to create a foundational patent shield for our industry.”

In September, Square announced the launch of COPA and invited everyone in the crypto community to join the alliance to address concerns that “patent lockup” of foundational cryptocurrency technologies by a select few will stifle innovation and deter mass-adoption.

Since the announcement, 18 companies have joined COPA and taken the pledge. In addition to Square and Coinbase, current members include SatoshiLabs, Kraken, Blockstream, Transparent Systems, Protocol Labs, Blockstack, Foundation Devices, ARK.io, Blockchain Commons, Carnes Validadas, Request Network, Horizontal Systems, VerifyChain, Cloudeya Ltd., Mercury Cash, and Bithyve.

“We are excited by how the community has reacted to the launch of COPA and we’re thrilled to welcome the new founding board members,” said Kirupa Pushparaj, COPA Board Member and Head of IP at Square, Inc. “We look forward to continuing to see COPA membership grow and unlocking foundational cryptocurrency technologies through open patents.”

Cryptocurrency technology and its adoption is still at a nascent stage. COPA believes that cryptocurrency’s success depends on the community coming together to build and develop upon existing technologies to innovate, which is not possible when parties tie up foundational technology in patents and litigation. While patents may at times be useful for defensive purposes, offensive and misguided use of patents threatens the growth and adoption of emerging technologies such as cryptocurrencies. There is concern that “patent lockup” of foundational cryptocurrency technologies by a select few will stifle innovation and deter mass-adoption.

COPA seeks to make foundational technology on cryptocurrency available for everyone to freely use and tackles the patent lockup concern using a dual approach. First, COPA members pledge never to use their crypto patents against anyone, except for defensive reasons, effectively making these patents freely available for all to use. Second, COPA creates a shared patent library where members pool all of their crypto patents together to form a collective shield of patents, allowing members to use each others’ patents to deter and defend against patent aggressors. This helps democratize patents for everyone, empowering even small companies with tools and leverage to defend themselves.

As more members join and declare that they won’t offensively assert their patents against others, the overall incidence and threat of patent litigation comes down. The shared patent library provides a shield, which gets larger and stronger as more members join, to every member – regardless of whether they own patents themselves or not – ultimately benefiting the entire community.