R3 is making a habit of sending cease-and-desist letters to bitcoin journalists and developers. R3 first gained notoriety for bringing together 70 of the world’s largest financial institutions under the banner of ‘blockchain’, but has since moved away from the buzzword, towards so called ‘distributed ledger’ technology.
The blockchain consortium, whose primary goal is to cut costs for the back office processes at major banks, seems to have no problem lobbying legal threats at members of the Bitcoin Community who do not follow the consortium’s line.
Peter Todd, a longtime Bitcoin Core developer, received legal threats lobbied by R3.
“R3’s allergic to criticism,” tweeted Bitcoin developer Peter Todd, who has worked with R3CEV. “Sent me a cease and desist for suggesting that there might be prior art on their patent.”
R3’s allergic to criticism: sent me a cease and desist for suggesting that the might be prior art on their patent! https://t.co/tPgkrGyPEl
— Peter Todd (@petertoddbtc) November 25, 2016
Prior art implies that Corda, which R3 seeks to patent, is already known technology, and thus ineligible for a patent. Mr. Todd says much of his work for R3CEV has gone unpaid. His work on Proofchains, which led to Corda’s design, was licensed by R3, but the consortium never paid for it.
“R3 bought a commercial license to my Proofchains work, although you’d have to ask a lawyer to know if that license is valid,” Mr. Todd tweeted.
Mr. Todd is not the only Bitcoin participant to receive a cease-and-desist letter. Bitcoin.com obtained a copy of an e-mail sent to a Bitcoin journalist by Chatsworth Communications, R3’s marketing firm.
In regards to a story about Wells Fargo, in which the multinational’s link to R3 was mentioned, Nick Murray Leslie, CEO of Chatsworth Communications, messaged the journalist the following:
“My client, R3 notes and asks me to advise you that there is no causal link whatsoever between the issue Wells Fargo is experiencing and their link to R3, which justifies your use of their name in this piece to the exclusion of any of the bank’s other partners or vendors,” Mr. Leslie writes. “As your piece does not reference any of the other block chain consortia to which Wells Fargo is also linked, this is clearly unbalanced, this may constitute malice under the Defamation Act. Wells Fargo has hundreds of partners and vendors, so we are at a loss as to why you are headlining a piece about them with a link to R3. We would ask you to remove the reference to R3 both in the headline and the body copy as it is irrelevant in the context of your piece immediately.”
He added: “R3 is a consortium working on whether distributed ledger technology can be applied to financial services. It is not bitcoin as is widely known. I am more than happy to advise you again as perhaps the point was not as clear as you need. The content and presentation of your article willfully conflates and combines the repetitional issues affecting Wells Fargo with its being a member of the R3 consortium, when there is no causal link or relevance in linking the two. As your article does not make the link with any other vendors, this could constitute a defamation under UK law.” The editor at the bitcoin news website in question gave into R3’s demands.
The Merkle Also Received a Cease-And-Desist Letter
Just recently, Bitcoin online news source, The Merkle, also received a cease-and-desist.
“The article published yesterday on your site yesterday on our client R3 is factually inaccurate, misleading and libelous,” writes Nick Warren of Chatsworth Communication, to the Merkle.
R3 was prompted by a sensationalist headline, “R3 Admits Defeat, Stops Blockchain Development.”
Mr. Warren asks: “Please take this article down from your website immediately.”
Charley Cooper, Managing Director of R3, then chimes in: “We’ve been flattered by all the attention this past week. Too bad the story isn’t a story. We’ve said from the beginning that while Corda is a distributed ledger platform, it is not a traditional blockchain platform and was never designed to be one.”
Today, R3 seemingly strays away from the word ‘blockchain,’ despite its initial market splash, when the word appeared in various articles from mainstream sources describing the organization as a blockchain consortium. Reuters, for instance, ran the headline, “R3 Blockchain group adds five banks, brings in technology heavyweights.”
R3CEV is based in New York. Freedom of the press is among the crowning achievements of the American Revolution. What is and is not libel or slander is difficult to decipher. Whereas in the past it has been an open question as to whether online content creators are protected by media shield laws. But, they are protected by the Free Speech Clause, which is supported by the U.S. Supreme Court
Still, it is up for debate whether or not R3CEV has been a victim of libel, and thus retains the right to issue cease-and-desist letters.
At press, David Rutter, R3CEV CEO and founder, had yet to reply to inquiries regarding these actions.
Does R3CEV have a defamation case against certain Bitcoin organizations and participants? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of R3CEV
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