Saturday, June 25, 2022

Blockstream: We Did Not Patent SegWit

Blockstream: We Did Not Patent SegWit

Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge has alleged Blockstream had patented the Segregated Witness (SegWit) featureset that it was now attempting to merge into Bitcoin’s core software.

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On his personal blog Monday, Falkvinge described a similar pattern in the telecommunications industry — with each major player campaigning for their own patented technology to be codified as the industry standard. “Everybody was trying to get as much as possible of their own patent portfolio into the industry standard, while still trying to maintain a facade of arguing purely on technical merits.”

Falkvinge further argued that Blockstream’s “Defensive Patent Strategy,” which the company committed to in 2016, was “not worth anything.”

Its “Modified Inventor’s Patent Agreement” states:

The Company […] agrees not to assert any claims of any Patents which may be granted on any of the above applications unless asserted for a Defensive Purpose. […] An assertion of claims of the Patents shall be considered for a “Defensive Purpose” if the claims are asserted against an Entity that has filed, maintained, threatened, or voluntarily participated in any patent infringement lawsuit against Assignee.

To assert any of the Patent claims against any Entity for other than a Defensive Purpose, Assignees must obtain prior written permission from all of the Inventors or their heirs without additional consideration or threat.

Blockstream Employees Respond

chain nChain acquiredBlockstream has said it intends to only wield their patents if a third party was suing them, and not in an offensive manner as Falkvinge was predicting. However, the agreement does allow for the respective inventors to unanimously agree to do just that, should the need ever arise.

In a Twitter response, Blockstream cofounder Peter Wuille denied having any patents related to Segwit, pending or otherwise.

A cursory search on the US Patent Office website reveals two patents currently assigned to Blockstream Corporation, neither of which had any obvious connections to the infamous soft-fork. One patent described Sidechains, and the other described a method for concealing transaction amounts on the blockchain.

Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell responded to the allegations on Reddit, stating that their company “will not and can not apply for patents on segwit.”

Did Falkvinge make a mistake? What do you think of Blockstream’s other patents? Let us know.

Images via Pixabay

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