Blockstream having patents in Segwit makes all the weird pieces of the last three years fall perfectly into place


Based on Blockstream’s behavior in the Bitcoin community, I have become absolutely certain that Segwit contains patents that Blockstream and/or their owners have planned to use offensively. I base this not on having read the actual patents, for they can be kept secret for quite some time; I base this on observing Blockstream’s behavior, and having seen the exact same behavior many times before in the past 20 years from entities that all went bankrupt.

In a previous part of my career, I was making telecom standards. This meant meeting with lots of representatives from other companies somewhere on the globe once a month and negotiating what would go into the standard that we would all later follow.

I was a representative of Microsoft. I would meet with people from Nokia, Ericsson, AT&T, and many other corporate names you’d recognize instantly, in small groups to negotiate standards going forward.

One thing that was quite clear in these negotiations was that everybody was trying to get as much as possible of their own patent portfolio into the industry standard, while still trying to maintain a façade of arguing purely on technical merits. Some were good at it. Some were not very good at it at all.

One of the dead-sure telltale signs of the latter was that somebody would argue that feature X should use mechanism Y (where they had undisclosed patent encumbrance) based on a technical argument that made no sense. When us technical experts in the room pointed out how the argument made no sense, they would repeat that feature X should absolutely use mechanism Y, but now based on a completely new rationale, which didn’t make any sense either.

The real reason they were pushing so hard for mechanism Y, of course, was that they had patents covering mechanism Y and wanted their patented technology to go into the industry standard, but they were unable to make a coherent argument that withstood technical scrutiny for why it was the preferable solution at hand, with or without such encumbrance.

In other word, classic goalpost moving.

Goalpost moving

As a technical team made up of many people from different companies, there would come a time when our patience ran out with assuming good faith for the fake technical rationale presented to get something patented into the standard, as we knew it was made up on the spot but sort of had to play along — but only up to a point, if the party losing the technical argument didn’t give in, didn’t play their part of the game we all knew was happening.

But there’s more to Blockstream’s behavior than just moving technical goalposts.

As I later came into politics, I saw this pattern much clearer – it was in basically every decision in politics. We called it “high reasons and low reasons”. The “high”, or “noble”, reason would be the one you presented to the world for wanting X as policy. The “low” reason, meanwhile, was the one that made you give a damn in the first place about it. These were often not connected at all.

You could spot these “high-vs-low reason” conflicts in the tiny details. For example, somebody would argue for new invasive surveillance to combat terrorism, or so they would say. And then you read a little closer, and the bill text actually says “terrorism and other crimes“, an important part which nobody paid attention to. Two years after passing, it turns out that the new surveillance powers were used 98% to fight ordinary teenagers sharing music and movies with each other, and that the original bill sponsor was heavily in bed with the copyright industry.

So the exact same pattern of having one overt and one covert reason was present in politics as well, unsurprisingly. But there’s also another pattern here, one that we shall return to: “We want this feature because of X, or because of any other reason”.

But first, let’s compress the last three years of dialogue between Blockstream and the non-Blockstream bitcoin community:

[BS] We’re developing Lightning as a Layer-2 solution! It will require some really cool additional features!
[com] Ok, sounds good, but we need to scale on-chain soon too.
[BS] We’ve come up with this Segwit package to enable the Lightning Network. It’s kind of a hack, but it solves malleability and quadratic hashing. It has a small scaling bonus as well, but it’s not really intended as a scaling solution, so we don’t like it being talked of as such.
[com] Sure, let’s do that and also increase the blocksize limit.
[BS] We hear that you want to increase the block size.
[com] Yes. A 20 megabyte limit would be appropriate at this time.
[BS] We propose two megabytes, for a later increase to four and eight.
[com] That’s ridiculous, but alright, as long as we’re scaling exponentially.
[BS] Actually, we changed our mind. We’re not increasing the blocksize limit at all.
[com] Fine, we’ll all switch to Bitcoin Classic instead.
[BS] Hello Miners! Will you sign this agreement to only run Core software in exchange for us promising a two-megabyte non-witness-data hardfork?
[miners] Well, maybe, but only if the CEO of Blockstream signs.
[Adam] *signs as CEO of Blockstream*
[miners] Okay. Let’s see how much honor you have.
[Adam] *revokes signature immediately to sign as “Individual”*
[miners] That’s dishonorable, but we’re not going to be dishonorable just because you are.
[BS] Actually, we changed our mind, we’re not going to deliver a two-megabyte hardfork to you either.
[com] Looking more closely at Segwit, it’s a really ugly hack. It’s dead in the water. Give it up.
[BS] Segwit will get 95% support! We have talked to ALL the best companies!
[com] There is already 20% in opposition to Segwit. It’s impossible for it to achieve 95%.
[BS] Segwit is THE SCALING solution! It is an ACTUAL blocksize increase!
[com] We need a compromise to end this stalemate.
[BS] Segwit WAS and IS the compromise! There must be no blocksize limit increase! Segwit is the blocksize increase!

This is just a short excerpt. I could go on and on, showing how Blockstream said that node count was completely negligible when Bitcoin Classic nodes started to pick up and how hashrate was the only valid measure, and how Blockstream is now talking – no, yelling – the exact opposite, when Bitcoin Unlimited is at 40%+ of hashrate.

This pattern is utterly typical for somebody hiding encumbrance in what they’re trying to achieve – for if Segwit locks in, it’s in bitcoin for eternity because of the way the chain is permanent, whether those parts of the chain are used by a particular actor or not.

There’s even more to it. It’s also typical for an actor who’s deflecting like this to try to invoke external enemies. Warhawks in governments have done the same over and over when they want to go to war: be aggressive about a narrative, call out anybody who challenges the narrative as a traitor and a saboteur, and beat the drums of war. It’s tribal, but it works. In this case, Blockstream have singled out two individuals as “enemies”, and people who want to be part of the community are encouraged to be aggressive against them. It’s practically straight out of scenes of the movie 1984.

All to get patents into bitcoin, regardless of whether you burn it and its community to the ground in the process.

That’s the only way their behavior makes sense, and it makes utter and complete sense in that way. I want to emphasize again that I have not read any of the Blockstream patent applications, and it would be pointless to do so as they can be kept secret for something like 18 months, so I wouldn’t have access to the full set anyway. But based on Blockstream’s behavior, I can say with dead certainty that I’ve seen this exact behavior many times in the past, and it’s always when somebody has a dual set of reasons – one for presentation and palate and another that drives the actual course of action.

With that said, Blockstream has something called a “Defensive Patent Pledge”. It’s a piece of legal text that basically says that they will only use their patents for defensive action, or for any other action.

Did you get that last part?

That’s a construction which is eerily similar to “terrorism and other crimes”, where that “and other crimes” creates a superset of “terrorism”, and therefore even makes the first part completely superfluous.

Politican says: “Terrorism and other crimes.”
The public hears: “Terrorism.”
What it really means: “Any crime including jaywalking.”

The Blockstream patent pledge has exactly this pattern: Blockstream will only use their patents defensively, or in any other way that Blockstream sees fitting.

Blockstream says: “For defense only, or any other reason.”
The public hears: “For defense only.”
What it really means: “For any reason whatsoever.”

Let’s assume good faith here for a moment, and that Greg Maxwell and Adam Back of Blockstream really don’t have any intention to use patents offensively, and that they’re underwriting the patent pledge with all their personal credibility.

It’s still not worth anything.

In the event that Blockstream goes bankrupt, all the assets – including these patents – will go to a liquidator, whose job it is to make the most money out of the assets on the table, and they are not bound by any promise that the pre-bankruptcy management gave.

Moreover, the owners of Blockstream may — and I predict will — replace the management, in which case the personal promises from the individuals that have been replaced have no weight whatsoever on the new management. If a company makes a statement to its intentions, it is also free to make the opposite statement at a future date, and is likely to do so when other people are speaking for the company.

This leads us to ask who the owners of Blockstream are: who would have something to gain from pulling the owner card and replacing such a management?


The owners of Blockstream are the classic financial institutions, specifically AXA, that have everything to lose from cryptocurrency gaining ground.

And they have bought (“invested in”) a company, which has an opportunity to get patents into the bitcoin blockchain, thereby being able to either outright ban people from using it, or collect a heavy rent from anybody and everybody who uses it.

The conclusion is unescapable here: Blockstream’s constant goalpost shifting has had the underlying goal to have Blockstream’s owners effectively own bitcoin through patent encumbrance.

As horrifying as that statement is, it’s the only way – the only way – that the actions of the past three years make perfect sense.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He works as Head of Privacy at the no-log VPN provider Private Internet Access; with his other 40 hours, he's developing an enterprise grade bitcoin wallet and HR system for activism.

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  1. Maybe my name

    So i didnt read it entirely… but im totally confused, i was pro segwit, then pro big blocks, then again pro segwit and now im just totally disgusted and annoyed and confused….
    Why did you Rick Falkvinge talk about the ASIC boost….? IT seems like miners really did something dirty there. The andbleed bug remote shut also appears not really a “nice” or “fair” thing to do…? Why only talk about what one side did wrong and not talk about what the other side did wrong…? (and no im not a segwit agent etc.).

    It really just shows how retarded the majority of people on earth really are… Im unable to find any reasonable easy to read impartial analysis of the problem… Just Core throwing dirt on BigBlocks people (understandably) and then BigBlocks throwing dirt on Core (understandably)…

    Welll so far goes i believe the saying of stupid idiotic majority people “ble bleh bleh Bitcoin cant be stopped, you dont understand it man, its a tech and math, you cannot stop that man…”…. Well you idiots, it shows that you quite can :-). What a surprise…
    My paranoid thinking is that bitcoin has been already infiltrared more or less covertly by the “enemy” (be it banks, big companies, states, inteligence agencies whatever)… and are trying to destroy it or control it. And i believe BOTH sides were more or less infiltrated by the same or more actors… sad to see…

    So Rick Falkvinge… will you be the “light in the darkness” and be trully impartial and will you critically write about the ASIC boost and AntBleed miners backdoor?

    (or where the fuck on the internet can i find a place where to read a impartial analysis)?

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      The entire AsicBoost issue was deflection from the Core camp. Miners are supposed to be greedy and do whatever it takes to make more hashing power; this one thing is what makes bitcoin work.

      To paint this as being “dishonest mining” is to not understand the very foundation of bitcoin. I’ll be returning to that in a future post. But as it’s not the topic of this post:

      The problem with being “impartial”, as you ask, is that you’ll have to take somebody’s side in a toxic debate like this when and if it becomes clear that one side is deeply, deeply dishonest and the other is considerably less so and at least trying to get a high ground. This will come across as being nothing but partial from the camp who believe in the dishonest leaders.

      For example, if you look in /r/bitcoin about posts like this one, there’s an outrage of tribal name-calling, just as there is on Twitter about this post and me right now. There’s very little to refute the actual arguments, though. That’s what you need to look for: the level of argumentation. Is it tribal, or is it intellectual — in particular, allowing for dissent and counterpoints? That’s your sign at the end of the day.


      1. Anonymous


        1. Everyman

          Concise evidence right here.

      2. ArbitraryNameIsArbitrary

        Hi Rick,

        Can you post a link to the patents in question so that we can make a judgement for ourselves?

        Thanks for the write-up!

        1. Anonymous

          As was explained, patents can be kept secret for up to 18 months, which means they almost certainly wouldn’t reveal the patents until after SegWit is activated.

  2. Gregory Maxwell

    Blockstream does not have any patents, patent applications, provisional patent applications, or anything similar, related to segwit. As is the case for other major protocol features, the Bitcoin developers worked carefully to not create patent complications. Segwit was a large-scale collaboration across the community, which included people who work for Blockstream among its many contributors.

    Moreover, because the public disclosure of segwit was more than a year ago, we could not apply for patents now.

    In the prior thread where this absurdity was alleged on Reddit I debunked it forcefully. Considering that Rick directly repeated the tortured misinterpretation of our patent pledge from that thread (a pledge which took an approach that was lauded by multiple online groups), I find it hard to believe that he missed these corrections, doubly so in that he provides an incomplete response to them as though he were anticipating a reply, when really he’d already seen the rebuttal and should have known that there was nothing to these claims.

    As an executive of Blockstream and one of the contributors to segwit, my straightforward public responses 1) that we do not, have not, will not, and can not apply for patents on segwit, 2) that if had we done so we would have been ethically obligated to disclose it, and 3) that even if we had done so our pledge would have made it available to everyone not engaging in patent aggression (just as the plain language of our pledge states): If others depended upon these responses, it would create a reliance which would preclude enforcement by Blockstream or our successors in interest even if the statements were somehow all untrue–or so the lawyers tell me.

    In short, Rick Falkvinge’s allegations are entirely without merit and are supported by nothing more than pure speculation which had already been debunked.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      You did not “debunk” anything at all in that thread, Greg, as you claim here.

      You contradicted the claim without providing any reference beyond your angry assertion and a random unrelated link to what somebody else thought about it, and this despite being in a CxO position at Blockstream where you actually have power to do something about it instead of just talk — like provide an irrevocable license to any patent to anybody who wants to use it, in the case your actions should speak louder than your words here and you have all the patent encumbrance that can be expected from your behavior.

      1. Gregory Maxwell

        Thank you for confirming that you had seen that post and were aware that these positions had been responded to. By failing to acknowledge this in your article you have directly deceived your readers and conveyed a maliciously misleading story.

        > like provide an irrevocable license to any patent to anybody who wants to use it,

        We do, with the exception of patent aggressors which are clearly defined and only include parties that engage in patent litigation against Blockstream or against other for using Blockstream work.

        As our FAQ ( ) states we’re also willing to provide alternative or additional terms if someone has a complication under our existing royalty free setup, so far there has not been any such request.

        But Blockstream’s patent licensing is moot on this particular subject because there are no patents involved, a fact that you have conveniently ignored in your response.

        1. Rick Falkvinge

          By failing to acknowledge this in your article you have directly deceived your readers and conveyed a maliciously misleading story.

          This is the kind of toxic, tribal outlash assertions with a hint of Messiah delusion that I’ll be returning to in a future post here, on a server which conveniently can’t be “moderated” to fit the narrative. This behavior will stop, one way or another — and I’m working toward the goal it won’t bring bitcoin down with it.

          In any case, your assertion is utter nonsense – both that I would be deceiving readers or that I didn’t acknowledge the thread in question (which I even linked to in my comment, trivially refuting the central point of your argument here).

          I would also invite people to read that thread for some immediate background.

          1. Gregory Maxwell

            > This behavior will stop, one way or another — and I’m working toward the goal

            So, is the title “Falkvinge on Liberty” is referring to your efforts to control the behavior of others, then?

            I’m afraid that “will stop” is a bit vague, are you threatening me? Short of violence you’re not going to stop me from speaking up, especially while you continue to defame and attack me and the things I care about.

            > even linked

            How kind of you, since all my efforts to post comments with links were rejected as “spam”. But you made no reference to it in your article, even though it directly answers your allegations (though you might not accept the answers, acting if they hadn’t already been provided is dishonest).

            In any case, you continue to deflect and distract from the point made about that your entire allegation is just simply untrue. The fact that you continue to double down makes is harder and harder to believe that you were simply mistaken and not acting maliciously to damage myself, my company, and the Bitcoin project.

          2. Rick Falkvinge

            I’ll stop this discussion thread, which seems to go nowhere, with one small thing that I believe requires clarification:

            I have not, am not, and will never, threaten(ed/ing) to use violence to resolve an intellectual dispute such as this one. Although I doubt you felt threatened, I would do absolutely nothing to impair the physical safety of an opponent.

            I’m sorry to hear that you couldn’t post links to comments, whereas I could. It’s a bit odd, as we’re using the same interface for posting comments, and I don’t have any particular privilege when posting through the website. It could be that WordPress usually only allows one link per comment to prevent spam; it’s possible you hit that limit, in case you tried to provide multiple references.

      2. Anon365

        If you notice, Greg has rebutted Patents as the “reason” behind the strange (and to people with the relevant experience, shifty) behavior of the Blockstream representatives throughout this whole blocksize / Segwit debacle.

        What he hasn’t rebutted is are there other “reasons” why Blockstream want Segwit that are not patent related. I.e., Blockstream as a for-profit entity with corporate and venture capital investment / ownership (the structure / agreements to which are not public)

        For example, are there parts of Segwit that will open doors for Blockstream’s internal agenda (ROI for their investors), such as sidechain or Lightning technologies that will earn Blockstream a return and require Segwit

        This is the bigger picture for me.


        1. Ben

          But do sidechain and Lightning technologies *solely* benefit Blockstream? It appears to me without having a deep technical understanding of the proposals that *anyone* can run a sidechain (for whatever reason) and that anyone can provide services facilitating Lightning channels for profit.

          Is it wrong for a company to propose a technology that it can profit from? To me it seems more like we should expect a profit motive, and look for protectionist motives. I currently don’t see any protectionist motives (other than the ones alleged by the original post here). If Blockstream can make money while contributing technologies to the community, then I’m all for it.

    2. Tenrue

      You’re saying that BS has no patents on SW, but the article does not state that specifically. Rather, it’s speaking of possible patents on things related or requiring SW.

      What are the subjects of your outstanding patents?

      1. aceat64

        It’s all on their website, any and all patents they own are royalty free, forever:

        The EFF agrees with Blockstream’s patent pledge, do a google search for “eff blockstream”. There’s an article on EFF’s site praising Blockstream’s efforts with regards to patents.

  3. Pirate Y

    Sorry Rick, but I think you’re on a wrong track in most of your aspects.

    Segwit roadmap: as far as I understand Core’s roadmap over the last two years has always been to start with a soft-fork segwit, then measure the effects on the network, then go for hard forked scaling. This didn’t change a bit. And contrary to your claim there are many sound reasons to do so:

    1. Segwit brings an effective doubling of the networking resources (>= double sized blocks, >= double sized computing power to process blocks, double sized networking capacity requirements, new attack vectors with bigger sized blocks, etc.). Each further block size doubling will again double resource usage. I think it is technically sound and even required to observe these metrics meticulously and to go step by step. I know from a long technical experience manager types who like to distinguish themselves by saying: “I know it will work if we quadruple”. But they seem to take the responsibility only if it works; if it fails they practically always blame the engineers, who should have proven before that big scaling steps didn’t work. In short: core runs an interative “modify, observe and adjust”. This kind of feedback loop is one of the main engineering methodology.

    2. To my knowledge Bitcoin is the only currency which successfully experiments with a fee market: the scarce block space has lead to users paying transaction fees. I’m sure you are well aware that due to the reduced block rewards the incentive of the miners to carry on the block chain is reducing, and that the fees are meant to be the substitute for the reduced block reward. One could argue that a fee market won’t be required for a while, since the block reward is still high enough. Even though I’d personally have preferred to see this step later I think it’s a legit way to proceed by testing and understanding these fee market mechanisms before they really become necessary.

    3. Bitcoin is the oldest, biggest and most heavily used coin network. Even though a great number of nodes updates quickly there is a big unknown about how many (non-publically-listening) nodes and wallet implementations are around. Incompatible changes of the protocol layer pose for bitcoin a much higher risk than for other coins. I hear here as well manager types claiming “it’s not a problem” / “other coins do it, too”. But again, these are the guys who won’t take responsibility if it fails. I think that bitcoin has a huge responsibility here to be as careful as possible and to run an incompatible protocol layer change (“hard fork”) only as the last step. And, as many core voices demand, in a manner as smooth as possible (e.g. without double spending vectors) and possibly also including changes from the “feature wish list”. Here again, I think the “soft fork first” approach is the best way to approach.

    4. My second to last argument here: the distributed and peer-to-peer character of bitcoin. Increasing resource requirements necessarily decrease the number of nodes (less mobile devices, less TOR nodes, etc.). A longer the block size stays small, a larger the pool of technically potent enough devices / potential nodes.

    5. And the last one: privacy. I don’t want to see each coffee I bought with bitcoin in a public ledger. For these small amounts I prefer many, many decentral ledgers, as will become available with Ligthning or similar technologies, which are vastly simplified by segwits malleability fix.

    When you claim that “the only explanation is a hidden motive of Blockstream” you wipe all these and other valid standpoints from the table. Furthermore one can easily take your argument and reverse it: why do you insist against all sound arguments to stay with “all your transactions have to be made public in the blockchain”? Dark motives?

    You know what I mean…


    Pirate Y

    1. Pirate

      Dear Pirate Y,

      your final paragraph concisely sums up the problem of the article, and the community split in Bitcoin. I’m going to take a bipartisan stake here, and say that both sides need to fully invest in allowing different opinions and address direct questions to each other. Thank you for that.

      That said, as a non-bipartisan supporter of SegWit, I believe that Greg Maxwell has sufficiently provided proof that Blockstream is *not* working under a hidden agenda nearly as much as Bitcoin Unlimited and BitMain are. Where Blockstream has taken its time to respond to criticism and questions, those parties (or that party, actually) never do seem to adequately respond to criticism with anything other than allegations of dark motives and conspiracy theories.

  4. gabriel

    This all is happening because Bitcoin lacks basic governing system fundamentals, actually bitcoin suite developers saw this coming and created decred with build in consensus mechanism that enables community to delegate in 100% decentralized way thru voting.

  5. lizardman

    “I base this not on having read the actual patents, for they can be kept secret for quite some time”

    What is this article?

    A patent is an invention that’s been made public? What the hell is a secret patent?

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      A patent is an invention that’s been made public?

      It used to be like that, yes. That was even the whole motivation – indeed the justification – for these kinds of monopolies. Then somebody thought they didn’t have to provide their part of the balance, and that patent applications should be able to kept secret for well over a year, and even with extendable secrecy, if I remember correctly.

    2. just a hoddler

      Thing is, Blockstream has what they call ‘defensive patents’, and they ‘promise’ not to use them. Are we in a trustless system or not? The promise is worthless and meaningless.

      Read their Patent Pledge. It is built around their ‘promise’. Which is the last company that you know of that ‘promised to do no evil.?
      Can we see those ‘defense patents’?

      Read the careful wording when the Blockstream employees talk about patents. They say: “We have no patents on SegWit’. Well, perhaps they have some on Segregated Witness or some other name, that we don’t even know about yet.

      It is over to Blockstream to convince the community that their ‘promise to do no evil’ works in a trustless environment.

      1. Andrew LeCody

        The EFF praised Blockstream with regards to how they handle patents:

        It’s clear the defense patent license is just to protect Blockstream from patent trolls. Given how broken the patent system is, I think this is the best move they could have made. It protects them using the existing system, while making sure any invention is available to everyone, this is the patent version of an open source license.

  6. Dave

    Greg, appreciate your patience in responding to loudmouthed idiots like Falkvinge.

    I think it’s worth remembering that Falkvinge, by his own admission, pumped and dumped Bitcoin in 2011 by saying he “put his life savings into Bitcoin”. But in the aftermath of the 2011 mtgox hack, when bitcoin plummeted back to $2.50, he admitted he had sold “all his coins”. I question the motives of someone who’s trying to dictate the direction of Bitcoin, who has in the past demonstrated his willingness to manipulate the market price, and then dump it when he felt it was to his advantage.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      I think it’s worth remembering that Falkvinge, by his own admission, pumped and dumped Bitcoin in 2011 by saying he “put his life savings into Bitcoin”. But in the aftermath of the 2011 mtgox hack, when bitcoin plummeted back to $2.50, he admitted he had sold “all his coins”.

      I have made it no secret that I tried to catch the market swings very early on – selling high and buying low. That was a mistake and I should just have held.

      I believe I wrote something to the effect of whether I was in or out at the moment. Since late 2011 or early 2012, I have remained all-in; I got too burned from trying to catch the swings.

      Please do question my motives. I am a hodler, so I have everything to win from bitcoin succeeding (and the other way around). My initial and bad trading should not diminish that point.

      1. Anonymous

        more of the usual conspiracy dribble you are so well known for

        i like the conspiracy theory that you have been hired by the E.U to discredit the online privacy movement by acting like a total clown.

    2. My point of view

      But aren’t Blockstream defensive patents bound by the Defensive Patent License v1.1? Then, what is the problem? How can you do it better?

      It even creates the incentive to finish once and for all with software patents if companies and individuals start joining the Defensive Patent License movement…

  7. @RandyHilarski

    Rick thank you for this! I would love to see you posting on Steemit it again.

  8. parararam

    wow, great article

  9. Norm

    Excellent and very important analysis, thank you.

  10. Lee Lo

    Wonder where are to people here? What do they stand for? Is it right that there are a secret government?

  11. Maybe or maybe not my name

    As Blockstream/Core label anything that goes against their interest an “attack”, using patents only for “defensive” purposes can mean using them against anyone else in the Bitcoin world who doesn’t side with them (they are all enemies after all).

    1. Gregory Maxwell

      Defensive purposes is defined specifically in the document (which I cannot link here because my posts are blocked for “spam”– but you can google ‘blockstream patent faq’ and find it all).

      In the pledge part, which is just one of three parallel paths we provide (we multiple licensing options in case there is a problem with any one of them) the text states:

      > Blockstream will not enforce any of the patents on any invention involving software it owns now or in the future except for defensive purposes, as defined below. […] For the purposes of this pledge, enforcement for “defensive purposes” is an assertion of Patent Rights against a party who files, maintains, threatens, or voluntarily participates in any claim for patent infringement against a) Blockstream (including cross-claims and counterclaims), or b) any other party based upon that party’s use or distribution of technologies claimed in Blockstream patents or invented by Blockstream.

      Though in this case it’s moot because segwit is unpatented.

      1. Maybe or maybe not my name

        Thanks for the clarification Greg, but it’s still not entirely waterproof.

        As I read it the defense triggers to protect Blockstream and its products (i.e. not to protect Bitcoin), even in cases unrelated to Bitcoin (e.g. a Blockstream service). So let’s say that you (Blockstream) with a separate service, infringe on patents of another company that also happens to be active in the Bitcoin space and that other company seeks to impose its patent rights on you, Blockstream could enforce any patent it holds even those that may apply to any part of the Bitcoin ecosystem on that other company.

        While I think you’re perfectly entitled to retaliatory patent enforcement, and even commend your promise not to strike first, I don’t think you should be able to enforce patents related to any part of Bitcoin or related code unless Bitcoin itself is encumbered by a party seeking to enforce a patent on it. Blockstream should not be able to exclude another party from participation in this space based on a conflict it has with that company elsewhere.

        All this might be a moot point, or it might not. We have no way of knowing.

        1. Pirate

          You are describing a situation that is both hypothetical and (given the current state of affairs) unrealistic, to put in question a company that has repeatedly earned the trust of a community by releasing high quality, open source software. We live in a world and are part of a community where trust must be earned. Blockstream has earned trust over a very long period of operation.

  12. RolLleft

    Long live the Pirate Ehthicist.

  13. Anonymous

    this is satire, right?

    next you should let your readers give you some key words and then you can create some elaborate conspiracy theory around those words.

    next i would like to read a story involving lizards ,moon, obama and nazis.

    that would keep me entertained and it would keep you away from serious things you don’t understand

  14. Anonymous

    The patents literally do not exist. The fact that you can write something so deceptive is a clear indicator of malice.

  15. JoelKatz

    I was under the impression that it was not possible to both encourage something and prohibit it. That is, if you encourage the adoption of some technology or standard, you can’t then turn around and prosecute people who did what you encouraged them to do for violating your patent.

  16. cryptokshatriya

    want to join the last Satoshi going down the rabbit hole of segwit related patents?

  17. Anonymous

    Rick, don’t let war consume you.

    The reality of this situation is that it’s highly complex, and I understand that you’re trying to boil things down to a digestible narrative, but just read the dialog portion of your article for an indication of how thin a sliver of reality the war narrative shaves off.

    You’ve mentioned tribal behavior several times on this page, but you can’t deny that your narrative is tribal in nature at the expense of an objective perspective of historical events. It revolves around tribal conflict, the perception of tribal injury, and blame. This is directly after you talked about reality distorted by politically communication, and later in the comments admonish tribal argumentation as having little value.

    War will consume you and it will bring you to the lowest common denominator of yourself. It will rob you of your self-awareness, perspective, objectivity, and humanity. Don’t let it.

  18. polar

    Sure, Rick may have experience with government and business scamming, but to see something as open, meritorious and well understood by computer scientists and interpret it through the eyes of a consumer we just get speculative paranoia.
    His claims are absolutely, provably, false but because he is focused on defending a bias of an argument he is merely holding to one side out of stubborn pride and blind ignorance. That is the big blockist side.

    Segwit is not a “Blockstream” invention it is birthed of many, many unaffiliated people who made open proposals and solutions to problems to an open source COMMUNITY. The solution is not to go to a closed privatised corrupt group that would seek to “own Bitcoin” like Bitcoin Unlimited would be to basically get exactly what he seeks to avoid. Efficient blocks are effectively bigger blocks! Blocks fill with spam – this is why satoshi put spam control in the blocksize limit and running into the inconviences of a fee market to find when spam (unwarranted use of the Blockchains storage and mainteance as though it was a free resource) starts to be reduced we have as a Bitcoin community found some balance and wisdom through experience rather than conjecture. Undoing that spam limit would just increase spam until the blocks were full again but yet the Segwit upgrade that features merely some new and useful opcodes that CAN enable Lightning Network and many future as yet to be imagined or created uses of smart contracts in Bitcoin.
    Lets look at Ethereum – its got supposedly full programmability self executing smart contracts – Bitcoin has very tightly secured and tested operations that can build useful smart contracts. We seek to just add to that usefulness carefully rather than have open slather like Ethereum and we get extremists freaking out because they want to turn a simple “more of this” knob as if this fixes scaling. Real scaling is well known in video game worlds that have their own economy and currency, as well as millions of other movements – you do it by parallelism not by just thinking you can double or octuple the amount of users by buying a bigger box. Then you really scale – even phones have scaled by having multiple CPU cores – this just for a single users benefit. Big blockists are effectively the same as people who would refuse to allow phones to have multi-core parallelism in CPU power or a GPU to focus on specialised video. Segregated Witness is also a bit like specialisiing signiature storage because it too isn’t needed longer term in the immutable chain of transactions that once permanent can’t really ever be redacted so checking every single signiature again won’t be realistically necessary. We have hashes that do that en-mass for the whole blocks.

    Even patents can’t really control Bitcoin – it is merely an ugliness of reality. I’m super against patenting these kinds of ideas – but if you don’t its already known that your ideas will get patent trolled for sure – this is happening already in the space and to say you can’t use defensive patents is to be an ignorant fool. Like the definition of insanity – doing same thing and expecting a different result. No we won’t patent our idea because this time people will respect it as our original art …

    When it is an offchain solution to managing transactions to do a lot of spending it is just like a short term credit card in a food court you load anyway. Who even cares if one approach is patented since we are talking – off chain – and its fine to build secondary businesses around payments. We have that already just people doing payments could patent their software that they sell like Bitpay to do on-chain transactions if they have to protect their business and people can still write new things that do the same as long as they don’t copy their product and then try to lock them out of business using stolen ideas.

    Without defensive patents you just get patent-trolled and blocked

  19. Paykasa Bozdurma

    its very very good thank you so much

  20. Paykasa

    IT seems like miners really did something dirty there. The andbleed bug remote shut also appears not really a “nice” or “fair” thing to do…?

  21. paykasa al

    by those who promise more profit.
    That is how corporations work after all (and a lot of other things).

  22. Nozomi

    Hi Rick,

    I know you are speculating regarding Blockstream’s possible patent on Segwit. I understand you came to this idea by looking at patterns and interpreting these patterns based on what you observed in the past. I see that in a sense, you are using your instinct to detect possible centralization and seeds for corruption. I think it is helpful to be critical and important for everyone to discern and not to simply trust any or all developers or believe in the integrity of any protocol changes that are promised etc.

    With this said, I would like to ask you this. When Satoshi wrote her whitepaper and freely gave the idea to the world, why wouldn’t he or she have copyrighted the paper and ideas? Why wouldn’t Satoshi have patented this invention? Why did he or she make it open source?

    In this Bitcoin system, we often talk about self-interests and economic interests, but maybe there is something more? Maybe there are other interests that can’t be simply explained as economic interests etc? In the current political and financial system, we have seen massive levels of corruption. We have been learning the hard way how we have trusted the wrong people and institutions …indeed this global crisis of legitimacy has made many of us realize how any system that relies on third party trust is not secure.

    I see the act of Satoshi was like throwing the ring into Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings. He or she took the first step of removing levers of control by giving up that control and ownership. Such an act is hard to be understood by many people who are used to living in a society where people act with narrow and short term self interests. Think of Edward Snowden as another example. He risked his life and did things that were far beyond his personal interest, but in the public interest. Many have a hard time understanding what drove him to do what he did and wrap their mind around the idea of altruism.

    Many developers who contributed to Bitcoin have been working unpaid, likely because they care about this ecosystem and innovation. Do you think they are working hard in order to take over Bitcoin or make a massive profit out of it? I know we all should keep some skepticism and not always assume good intentions in all people. But I think it is also important to recognize someone’s good will if this is clearly shown in their actions and not simply in words.

    I see many developers of Bitcoin are lining up with Satoshi’s act of giving, and I personally think this is at a core of this innovation. I touched on this in my first article that you were kind enough to publish on your site. I was also inspired by your idea of Swarmwise, because I saw it as a beautiful manifestation of Satoshi’s action!

    Bitcoin, Open Source Movement for Decentralized Future 25/bitcoin-open-source-movemen t-for-decentralized-future/

    Best regards,

  23. Paykasa Bozdurma

    when really he’d already seen the rebuttal and should have known that there was nothing to these claims.