Technicalities of Token Technology

Editor’s Note

The cover story of this issue is an in-depth interview with Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven González, the first person of color in this role, by Lakewood Municipal Court Judge Lisa H. Mansfield. The piece covers a range of significant topics, including the importance of diversity among judges, the potential for lasting effects of COVID-19 on the judicial system (many of them good), the digital divide, politics and the court, access to justice, and much more. Read the interview on page 38.

The first time I really heard about blockchain and Bitcoin was several years ago when a friend told me I should buy in. I did, but I was so skeptical that I only invested $10. I now own approximately 1/2,000 of one bitcoin. Each bitcoin is currently worth about $56,000 (my friend was right about investing), and my investment is worth $28.

The first time I read about and started to understand non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are sort of a combination of blockchain technology and smart contracts, was in a New York Times article about NFTs—an article that the columnist then sold as an NFT for just over half a million dollars.11 Other bizarre things that have sold as NFTs include a video of a man setting fire to a Banksy print and a suite of GIFs released by Taco Bell.22 Despite some lingering skepticism around the staying power of NFTs, it is indisputable that they have allowed digital artists, celebrities, and others to capitalize on their work in a totally new way.

NFTs also present some interesting legal issues. This is where two Washington attorneys, David Sheldon and Leron Vandsburger, come in. On page 32 of this issue, they cover what it actually means to buy an NFT, what rights are transferred, and what legal professionals should know before talking to a client about whether to get into NFTs. It is a fascinating article for both believers and skeptics.

Other articles include a look at three major developments to intellectual property law (page 28), an ethics column on the terminology section of the RPCs (page 16), and tips on writing an effective supplemental authorities letter to an appellate court (page 22).

About the author

Kirsten Abel is the editor of Washington State Bar News.

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