Is Web3 Dead? Not From Where We are Sitting

Even with some high-profile enforcement actions and general mayhem in the blockchain industry (see here and here), many founders continue to build their projects, gain traction in the market, and receive funding. We know this because we speak with many such entrepreneurs every week. Below is an excerpt from an email I recently sent to a prospective client inquiring about my law firm’s web3 experience.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I enjoyed getting to know you and hearing about your technological prowess.

As I mentioned on our call, our firm’s blockchain practice is approximately 18 months old. We have built this practice on a solid and broad legal foundation that encompasses our expertise in technology, intellectual property (trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets), licensing, securities (raising capital), compliance, structuring, general corporate, and contract matters.

Though technology continues to advance, it still must fit somewhere within the current legal framework, and to the extent that it does not, new facets are added to the existing legal framework. We constantly track these developments for our clients.

Most of our web3 projects have had an international component to them, largely because of our prowess and reputation in the international space. In terms of blockchain/web3 related projects, we have been involved in the following:

  • Represented a well-known US musician regarding a licensing agreement covering collaboration with an international NFT production studio. This deal included the US musician receiving equity in the production studio entity through a joint venture arrangement.
  • Represented a prominent consumer products company in a deal authorizing a distributor to license a Bored Ape from an NFT owner.
  • Built out a full suite of contracts for a California company that was capitalizing on its owner’s connections in the real-world art market to license certain artworks for digitization and use in the metaverse. This included negotiations with a prominent international auction house for setting up a virtual auction to accompany the live auction of the NFTs derived from the artwork.
  • Established an internationally-based “DAO for DAOs,” including their online T&Cs for their Telegram bot and interacting with the smart contract protocols to issue tokens with varying qualities. This included pre-forming entities in crypto-friendly jurisdictions around the world for sub-DAO members to integrate with their entity-less DAOs.
  • Formed and represented an Israeli-run venture capital fund with tokenized limited partnership interests that will be purchased and traded in the secondary market. We worked closely with Securitize in that process, which is one of the most prominent ATS (alternative trading system) providers in the world.
  • Represented a company with an interoperable NFT gaming asset marketplace, which includes software development tools. This project has over 50,000 users, and the team just won a bid to engage in a multi-year transaction with a prominent international sporting organization.

These are only some of the projects I personally handled. Other attorneys in our group have engaged in other projects in their core areas of expertise.

Aside from our paid client projects, I have spent dozens of hours on initial calls with web3 founders and developers discussing their business plans, gauging their legal needs, and generally providing advice on whether their projects have legs and where they may run into legal issues.

In terms of total involvement, we have billed nearly 500 hours of attorney time in the past year on crypto projects. Most of us are mid-career attorneys. We are a lean firm in that our attorneys are dedicated experts who cross-train others at the firm when needed. Our core web3 team consists of the following:

  • Jonathan Bench (general corporate, finance/securities, and international transactions)
  • Paul Coble (technology, licensing, and patents)
  • Fred Rocafort (international and domestic IP)
  • Griffen Thorne (website T&Cs, data privacy, and licensing)
  • Arlo Kipfer (international due diligence and fraud investigations)
  • Ngosong Fonkem (AML/KYC and economic sanctions)

We also have a dispute resolution that is well-equipped — with the support of our web3 business team to handle any litigation/arbitration issues that might come up in the course of your work. Jihee Ahn leads our litigation team, and she was recently named by Law360 as one of the top five international arbitration lawyers under 40.

I am happy to answer any follow-up questions you have and to introduce you to some web3 clients who can give you their thoughts on what it is like to work with us.

We look forward to working with you. For more information on Web3, I suggest you check out the following:

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Business Basics, Web3