Blockchain technology utilizes a distributed digital ledger to record and track information, and can be leveraged to gain transparency and certainty in transactions ranging from cryptocurrency to supply chain tracking.  This blog provides information on the legal developments surrounding implementation of blockchain technology, with an initial focus on the financial services sector.

  • A federal court sitting in New York and applying that state’s long-arm statute lacked personal jurisdiction over a U.S. company not based in New York.  Accordingly, the court dismissed a breach of contract lawsuit brought against the company by an overseas consultant retained to assist with the company’s initial coin offering.  See ICO Servs., Ltd. v. Coinme, Inc., No. 18-cv-4276, 2018 WL 6605854 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 17, 2018) (Schofield, J.).  The court held that the one-shot consulting agreement was not the type of on-going relationship courts consider in evaluating personal jurisdiction; and the alleged existence of New York-based customers, investors, and business activity had no alleged connection to the underlying dispute.  Coinme illustrates – in the context of an ICO – contract-related activity that will and will not support personal jurisdiction in federal court.

     

  • A purchaser of tokens in an initial coin offering adequately alleged that the tokens are securities, a district court judge has held.  See Solis v. Latium Network, Inc., No. 18-10255 (SDW) (D.N.J. Dec. 10, 2018).  Accordingly, the court denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging that a blockchain-based company and its co-founders violated Sections 12 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933.  The decision breaks no new ground, but adds to a growing body of district court decisions rejecting, at the pleading stage, the argument that tokens are not “securities” subject to the federal securities laws.  The issue has not been addressed by a federal court of appeals or definitive guidance from U.S. regulators.

  • OFAC Adds Cryptocurrency Identifiers to Sanctions Lists
    by: Joseph P. Facciponti , Maxwell T.S. Thompson | (December 21, 2018)

    In November 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control took the significant step of adding digital currency addresses to its list of identifiers for certain designated individuals.

  • The SEC extends review period for VanEck and SolidX ETF to February 27, 2019

  • Deep Learning Gets Bulges
    by: Howard L. Kramer | (December 06, 2018)

    Deep learning, a subset of machine learning, has begun to migrate from hedge and prop trading firms to some large bulge bracket firms who are looking to enhance their alpha returns from trading.

  • In a setback for the Securities and Exchange Commission, a California federal judge has denied the SEC’s motion for a preliminary injunction against a token issuer and its founder.  In SEC v. Blockvest LLC, the SEC brought an enforcement action against Blockvest and Buddy Ringgold III alleging that a private sale and subsequent presale of Blockvest tokens (“BLVs”) were illegal sales of unregistered securities.

     

     

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