Bitcoin as a technology and a currency has come a long way. bitcoin and the core technology behind it is open source, however anything new built in relation to bitcoin need not be open source and any new hardware or software built to work along with or support bitcoin can apply for intellectual property protection. Coinbase, one of the well-known bitcoin companies is now doing the same.
Coinbase has recently filed nine patent applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. These patent applications were filed by the San Francisco based bitcoin wallet and services company earlier on 17th of March this year.
According to the reports available, Coinbase has applied for patent protection for various new products. These patent applications are currently under review at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and if the patent office decides that these applications are patentable, then they will be making these applications publicly available. Once the patent application is made publicly available by the office people can review it themselves and if they have any claims over such invention/product, then they can contest the application over a specific period of time.
Some of the products Coinbase has applied patents for includes a new bitcoin hot wallet, button that allows users to choose whether they want to execute their transactions over the blockchain or off the blockchain. The company is also attempting to patent its own tipping button.
This move by Coinbase hasn’t been received very well by few members of the community and they are debating about the validity of such patents legally and ethically in an open source perspective. If Coinbase’s patent is approved, the company has all the reasons to rejoice, but the same can hamper the growth of bitcoin ecosystem, as developers may have to start thinking about whether they are infringing upon anyone’s else’s patent while developing new products.