Blockchain technology applications involve a number of different players interacting with one another as they play specific roles in the blockchain ecosystem. But because blockchain technology is still relatively new, the law still is not well developed regarding many aspects of how these players may—or must not—interact with one another as they perform these roles.

A recent magistrate judge ruling in a dispute over actions taken by various parties in connection with a cryptocurrency “fork” addressed the question of whether those parties’ conduct constituted anticompetitive activity barred by federal antitrust law. United American v. Bitmain, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69525 (S.D. Fla. March 31, 2021), centered around a claim that a number of different defendants—who each occupied various roles with respect to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin Cash—had violated §1 of the Sherman Act (15 U.S.C. §1), by allegedly entering into an anticompetitive agreement to manipulate an alleged Bitcoin Cash market and take control of the Bitcoin Cash blockchain as Bitcoin Cash was about to “fork” into two separate cryptocurrency blockchains.

The Background of Cryptocurrency Mining