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By Legit. | Legal News

Satoshi, antitrust & a dumb case

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Legit. | Legal News
Legit. | Legal News
Happy Monday. Legit is six months old today! A quick thank you to the 2,080 of you who’ve joined me on this journey so far.
I have a lot of fun writing Legit, and hope to continue writing it for as long as you continue reading it.
Keeping it light in today’s issue:
  • The anti-antitrust club.
  • Satoshi Nakamoto: coming to a court near you.
  • Chanel vs. Huawei is as ridiculous as everyone thought it would be.

TECH
The anti-antitrust club
Image: Andrew Rae/Esquire
Image: Andrew Rae/Esquire
The very first issue of Legit started with an antitrust story, so today feels pretty full circle.
On Wednesday, our all-too-familiar antagonists - Apple and Google - assembled in Washington to fend off claims their respective app stores operate on a bed of anticompetitive policies.
This time, Congress offered the duo’s smaller competitors - Spotify, Match Group, and Tile - a soap box to air their grievances.
Here’s the play-by-play.
Spotify (you are worryingly behind if you don’t know what this is):
  • Called Apple’s app store policies “abusive.” Case in point - Apple blocks Spotify from telling customers about upgrades through the iPhone app.
  • Said Apple threatened to blacklist Spotify’s app after it criticized excessive commission fees.
Match Group (owns Tinder and OkCupid):
  • Said it pays nearly $500m a year to Apple and Google in app store fees - the company’s single largest expense.
  • Claimed Google used intimidation tactics the night before the Senate hearing.
Tile (maker of bluetooth device trackers):
  • Told Congress that Apple sidelined its bluetooth trackers and then made the exact same thing - the new AirTag.
THE TAKEAWAY
Apple and Google’s app store policies have become legal-PR headaches wrapped in increasingly flimsy justifications.
And, to be honest, is anyone actually surprised by these policies anymore? It feels like I’ve been writing the same antitrust story every week for last six months.
I think Sen. Richard Blumenthal sums up the majority view on this pretty well:
  • “If you presented this fact pattern in a law school antitrust exam, the students would laugh the professor out of the classroom, because it is such an obvious violation of our antitrust laws.”
Broader view: tech and legal institutions are facing twin moments of reckoning. The ‘techlash’ = a make-or-break chance for lawmakers to grapple with Silicon Valley.
CRYPTO
Satoshi is coming to a court near you (maybe)
Craig Wright, a fifty-something-year-old computer scientist from Australia, has spent the better part of the last decade trying to convince everyone he’s Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin. Now, he might finally get a chance to prove it.
London’s high court is letting Wright pursue a copyright claim against Cobra, the (also anonymous) operator of bitcoin.org.
The case hinges on who wrote the infamous bitcoin white paper that first imagined a world of payments “based on cryptographic proof instead of trust.”
Wright says he has overwhelming evidence he’s the preternaturally talented computer coder who thunk Bitcoin into life. To protect his intellectual property, he wants Cobra to take down the white paper from their website.
Cobra says there’s no way Wright is Satoshi. Their argument is, amongst other things, blunt: “if he was, that would make him the 25th richest person in the world, which he obviously isn’t.”
THE TAKEAWAY
This is the first time judges could be forced to take a view on who invented Bitcoin. And, as with any Banksy-esque identity crisis, there’s good and bad here:
The (selfish) good: I’m excited to watch this play out. It would set social media alight if Wright showed up to court, pressed a button on a keyboard, and transferred away some of the early bitcoin known to be mined by Satoshi Nakamoto.
The bad: the elusiveness of Satoshi is half the fuel powering Bitcoin. In its S-1 filing earlier this year, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase said the entire crypto market could be destabilized if Satoshi’s identity was revealed.
Elsewhere in the cryptoverse: the SEC is pressing ahead with its Ripple lawsuit.
TRADEMARK
Chanel takes an L
Image: not Huawei's logo
Image: not Huawei's logo
Ending today’s issue with a quirky case: on Wednesday, an EU court took Huawei’s side in a 4-year-long logo battle with Chanel.
The backstory. The squabble’s origins take us back to December 2017, when Chanel tried to block Huawei’s quest to register a trademark for its new computer hardware with the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
The logo, Chanel said, consisted of two interlocking C’s - making it too phonetically similar to its own. Lest we risk the confusion of going to buy a pair of sunglasses and coming home with a computer.
The EU General Court ruled both logos consist of two interlocking curves… but that’s where the similarities begin and end.
  • “The mere fact that they have the geometric shape of a circle cannot make them conceptually similar.”
THE TAKEAWAY
No one is surprised by this ruling. Look at the two logos side-by-side.
What is mildly amusing, though, is the environment in which it took place. Over the last few years, Huawei has been the poster child for America’s war on Chinese “intellectual property theft”, with two of its subsidiaries being charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets, per The Fashion Law.
The gravity of those allegations make bickering over the letter ‘C’ seem markedly frivolous.
Zoom out. Logo disputes have been really weird lately.
Per Reuters, these cases “underline how luxury brands jealousy guard” logos that symbolize luxury, style and exclusivity - even when there’s nothing to guard them against.
LEGIT ONE LINERS
  • Derek Chauvin is found guilty for the murder of George Floyd.
  • Rocket Lawyer raises $233 million.
  • Apple is targeted by hackers demanding $50 million for stolen data and schematics.
  • The EU reveals rules on what should be classed as a ‘green’ investment.
  • MyPillow sues Dominion for violation of free speech rights.
  • DocuSign is more than an just e-signature biz and will continue to thrive post-pandemic, says The Motley Fool.
  • Sleepminting: how a brazen hack of the $69 million Beeple artwork revealed the vulnerability of NFT laws.
  • Four patents that changed the face of watch making.
  • McDonalds ice cream machines: secret codes, legal threats and betrayal (highly recommend).
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Legit. | Legal News
Legit. | Legal News @anniamirza

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