The Bitcoin API provider, BitGo, recently received backlash for filing a patent for multi-sig technology the company developed. BitGo responded by announcing their adoption of the Innovator’s Patent Agreement, which eliminates the ability for the company to use patents “offensively.” The company has continued to show their support for free technology by open sourcing their Chrome app today.
The company’s patent filing was discovered by an anonymous Redditor who posted the finding on the Reddit website, causing an uproar. In response the company stated they “support [the] elimination of software patents completely,” and continued “in the absence of that, we believe that companies should commit to defensive-only use.”
BitGo Co-Founder Michael Belshe, commented on the Reddit post, “First off, note that I also was the co-inventor of spdy, which has just recently become http/2.0. During the course of creating spdy, we filed a slew of patents. I, and the other engineers on the spdy team, all made sure that google was willing to give that IP away for free before we filed the patents. […] Google came through on its promise to give away the IP.”
“We recognize the value of making technology open, mitigated with the reality that all your competitors have patents too. ”
– Michael Belshe, Co-Founder BitGo
The former Google Engineer went on to cite a 2008 blog post he wrote, calling for patents to be more restrictive and defensive. Which was at the time, BitGo made sure to point out, long before the tech industry ever embraced such a philosophy.
Transparency Is Security
The company’s main product is its API for Bitcoin exchanges and other businesses to securely store, handle and transfer bitcoins. At the core of the company is security, and to further their commitment they have open sourced their Chrome app. It can now be reviewed by security analysts and the public at large. “We think the open sourced code is a great starting point for people who want to build their own apps to interact with the BitGo API, and we hope you’ll agree,” reads a BitGo blog post.
“We believe that peer review from the developer community is a core component of building secure client side wallet software, and offering transparency on what our wallet does is a core component of that.”
The company also maintains a bug bounty program which recently awarded one person 25 bitcoins after he discovered a bug in the company’s Legacy Wallet Recovery Tool. The bug caused the user to lose 85 bitcoins, which was charged as part of the transaction’s mining fee. The user’s bitcoins were returned to him by BitGo, in addition to the bounty awarded to him.