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To what extent is blockchain technology effective in managing IPRs?

Reading time: 13 minutes

Written by Meher Malhotra | Edited by Josh Lee

We’re all law and tech scholars now, says every law and tech sceptic. That is only half-right. Law and technology is about law, but it is also about technology. This is not obvious in many so-called law and technology pieces which tend to focus exclusively on the law. No doubt this draws on what Judge Easterbrook famously said about three decades ago, to paraphrase: “lawyers will never fully understand tech so we might as well not try”.

In open defiance of this narrative, LawTech.Asia is proud to announce a collaboration with the Singapore Management University Yong Pung How School of Law’s LAW4032 Law and Technology class. This collaborative special series is a collection featuring selected essays from students of the class. Ranging across a broad range of technology law and policy topics, the collaboration is aimed at encouraging law students to think about where the law is and what it should be vis-a-vis technology.

This piece, written by Meher Malhotra, seeks to review the extent to which blockchain technology will be effective in managing IPRs. Today, IPR management systems manage intellectual property rights. Nevertheless, over the years, these management systems have not been matching the expectations of IPR owners, as its institutional gaps hamper the ability of such owners to effectively enforce their rights. In light of this, there have been optimistic proposals seeking to replace and improve such a system with the aid of blockchain technology. This, while a viable solution, is easier said than done. Implementing a blockchain-based system has several implications, including gaining legitimacy from courts. In seeking to provide a realistic overview of the extent to which blockchain technology will be effective in managing IPRs, this paper will examine what makes an effective IPR management system and how the blockchain may deliver on that promise. 

Smart contracts and blockchain-based crowdsourced arbitration: A primer

Reading time: 11 minutes

Written by Tomoe Suzuki (Associate Author) | Mentored by Amelia Chew | Reviewed by Paul Neo 

LawTech.Asia is proud to conclude the second run of its Associate Author (Winter 2019) Programme. The aim of the Associate Authorship Programme is to develop the knowledge and exposure of student writers in the domains of law and technology, while providing them with mentorship from LawTech.Asia’s writers and tailored guidance from a well-respected industry mentor.

In partnership with the National University of Singapore’s alt+law and Singapore Management University’s Legal Innovation and Technology Club, five students were selected as Associate Authors. This piece by Tomoe Suzuki, reviewed by industry reviewer Paul Neo (Chief Operating Officer, Singapore Academy of Law), marks the third thought piece in this series. It examines the rise of blockchain-based crowdsourced arbitration platforms.

Introduction 

An earlier piece on “A brief analysis of the legal validity of smart contracts in Singapore” (“A Brief Analysis) by Louis Lau on LawTech.Asia has explored the issues surrounding the adoption of smart contacts in terms of validity. This piece seeks to build on the aforementioned piece and add on to readers’ understanding of issues that arise in the implementation of these contracts and solutions that have arisen. 

In particular, this article will compare various dispute resolution methods such as court-based litigation, mediation, arbitration (administered by arbitral institutions) to blockchain-based crowdsourced arbitration platforms (“BCAPs”) that have emerged in recent years. This piece will also provide a relatively abstract overview of how BCAPs work, the use cases they may be suited for, and highlight some of the challenges faced in increasing the adoption of smart contracts and BCAPs. 

Libra: Highlighting Regulatory Challenges for the Future of Cryptocurrencies

Reading time: 14 minutes

Written by Jaye Tan (Associate Author) | Mentored by Ong Chin Ngee | Reviewed by Ian Lee

LawTech.Asia is proud to conclude the second run of its Associate Author (Winter 2019) Programme. The aim of the Associate Authorship Programme is to develop the knowledge and exposure of student writers in the domains of law and technology, while providing them with mentorship from LawTech.Asia’s writers and tailored guidance from a well-respected industry mentor.

As part of a partnership with the National University of Singapore’s alt+law and Singapore Management University’s Legal Innovation and Technology Club, five students were selected as Associate Authors. This piece by Jaye Tan, reviewed by industry reviewer Ian Lee (Lead Investigator, Merkle Science), marks the second thought piece in this series. It examines the regulatory challenges of cryptocurrencies.

Abstract

In June 2019, Facebook announced that they were launching their own cryptocurrency Libra Coin under the Libra Association. Already facing governmental scrutiny over privacy issues over the social network, the announcement exacerbated intense attention from not only United States lawmakers and politicians, but the general public. On 23 October 2019, Mark Zuckerberg was subject to over six hours of questioning – elucidating the key concerns lawmakers have with regard to the regulation of cryptocurrencies. These regulatory challenges are not unique to the US, but apply worldwide to regulatory authorities dealing with the budding technology. With the legislation of the Payment Services Act, Singapore has set a regulatory framework which may be the leading framework for countries to adopt going forward.

#LexTech18 Quick Chats: Aditya Shivkumar, Resolve Disputes Online (RDO)

Reading time: 3 minutes

Interview by Jennifer Lim, Josh Lee, and Ong Chin Ngee | Edited by Josh Lee

Organised by Malaysian legal tech startup CanLawLexTech Conference 2018 is an APAC-wide regional legal technology conference taking place from 25 to 26 October 2018 in Kuala Lumpur. LexTech Conference 2018 aims to drive legal tech adoption in the region and strengthen the regional legal tech community. In the lead-up to LexTech Conference 2018, the LawTech.Asia team will be bringing to you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent individuals who are involved in the conference.

LawTech.Asia spoke with Aditya Shivkumar, Co-Founder of Resolve Disputes Online (“RDO”), about smart contracts and online dispute resolution (“ODR”) – a topic that Aditya will be speaking on at the LexTech Conference.

What are smart contracts, and what sort of transactions can it be used for? How specifically do you think smart contracts can be applied in ODR?

Smart contracts are not your conventional paper-based contracts. It actually consists of lines of code. There are multiple coding languages for smart contracts, such as Solidity or Bamboo (if one is executing a smart contract on the Ethereum network). Smart contracts utilise blockchain technology. The former is the front-end, while the latter is the back-end. 

Announcement of Collaboration: Resolve Disputes Online x LawTech.Asia

Reading time: 2 minutesWhat is technology? What can it be? What can we shape it to be?

While we aren’t entirely sure – yet – of what technology is and what it can be, what we know about technology is that it is a force. It knows no boundaries. We also know that it is ever-changing: the dreams of yesterday become the technologies of today, while the technologies of today become the antiques of tomorrow.

Let’s face it too – we all know lawyers secretly can’t get enough of technology.

In this spirit, Resolve Disputes Online (RDO) and LawTech.Asia are proud to announce a special collaboration to answer these questions and share our vision – our vision in which technology can revolutionise the practice of law, and where the law can regulate new technologies for the betterment of society. We also look forward to uncovering for our readers, and ourselves, a little more about what technology is, and its impact on the legal industry.

For both our readers, this means that RDO and LawTech.Asia will be co-writing and co-publishing articles relating to law and technology. Some of the possible topics we intend to explore include:

  • Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)
  • Access to Justice
  • The role of Blockchain in law
  • AI and the courts
  • Justice on the go

We can’t wait to get started.

This collaboration had its roots in Singapore (over coffee and kaya toast). As much as RDO is a legal tech company focusing on online dispute resolution – an area LawTech.Asia also covers, we realised that both our teams embraced the philosophy that technology can impact all parts of the legal industry. Advancements in one area of legal technology could easily generate lessons applicable to dispute resolution and ODR. After all, some say ODR is simply the adoption of technology in dispute resolution.

Through our contributions, we hope to foster and create a spirit of togetherness amongst societies, and to leave an indelible impact in the quest to provide a sneak peek into access to justice through ODR.

Look out for us.

This collaboration is proudly spearheaded by Ms Maryam Salehijam, Head of Content and Blogs, RDO, Mr Aditya Shivkumar, Co-founder, RDO, and Mr Josh Lee and Ms Jennifer Lim, Writers and Editors of LawTech.Asia.​

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