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Digital Asset Litigation

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Quinn Emanuel handles some of the largest and most significant civil disputes and government investigations in the digital asset area.  Clients turn to Quinn Emanuel attorneys across the world for our market-leading litigation and government investigation expertise.

Quinn Emanuel represents a wide range of clients in the digital asset space, including cryptocurrency purchasers and sellers; cryptocurrency exchanges and banks; blockchain platforms and technology developers; miners; investors in blockchain, cryptocurrency, and DeFi-related companies; individuals in civil disputes or under investigation; and whistleblowers.  We are unique in that we represent both plaintiffs and defendants, giving us rare insight into the thinking of parties and lawyers on the other side.  Recent matters include investigations by the SEC and CFTC; civil disputes about whether cryptocurrencies are securities; claims of cryptocurrency market manipulation; intellectual property matters; share and token valuation; employment matters; and claims involving breach of contract, fraud, computer hacking, trademark infringement, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty.  We have litigated 10 and 11-figure disputes in this space.

Over the past several years, blockchain technology and the digital asset markets have expanded rapidly.  With the meteoric rise of prices, and—until recently—a relative lack of regulation, the sector has drawn scrutiny and become a fertile ground for government inquiries and civil litigation.  In particular, cryptocurrencies have attracted investigation and enforcement actions from the SEC, which has monitored digital asset sales for fraud, misconduct, and compliance with securities laws; the CFTC, which has exercised authority over derivatives markets; the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which has enforced anti-money laundering requirements; and state banking regulators, who have overseen exchanges for consumer protection purposes.  On the civil side, we have seen an increase in lawsuits and disputes related to theories of market manipulation or the claim that cryptocurrencies should be treated as securities, as well as a growing number of trade secret, IP, employment, and contract actions.  Some of these have been addressed publicly and have created new governing law for the sector, while others have been handled privately in arbitration.  We were also one of the first law firms to accept cryptocurrencies as payment and we work closely with our clients to develop other creative funding arrangements as needed to accommodate this emerging asset class.

Our blockchain and cryptocurrency practice leaders include individuals with extensive trial, regulatory, and white collar experience, and deep knowledge of the cryptocurrency marketplace.  For example, Dave Grable is a former federal prosecutor who has litigated significant, high-dollar claims involving cryptocurrency companies; Michael Liftik is former Deputy Chief of Staff at the SEC, where he helped develop the agency’s earliest policy responses to cryptocurrencies, and who currently represents several individuals and companies in ongoing SEC and CFTC cryptocurrency investigations; and Alex Spiro is a former prosecutor who specializes in white collar crime and an array of complex issues in a wide range of industries.

Quinn Emanuel’s digital asset practice can help you or your company stay on the right side of the emerging law.  As the world’s best and most feared trial lawyers, Quinn Emanuel is ready to handle the broad spectrum of issues that digital asset creators, facilitators, and investors face on a regular basis—we have handled it all


Recent Representations

  • We represented Ripple Labs in completely defeating a $175 million case brought by UK-based Tetragon Financial Group.  Tetragon, a Ripple shareholder, sued Ripple in Delaware Chancery Court claiming that Ripple owed Tetragon a $175 million payout for an alleged default under Ripple’s Series C shareholder agreement.  Tetragon claimed default under the agreement’s Securities Default provision, which is triggered if the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission concludes that the cryptocurrency XRP is a security on a current and going forward basis.  Tetragon claimed the SEC’s filing of a lawsuit against Ripple in December 2020 triggered the provision.  The Court denied Tetragon’s preliminary injunction motion, granted Ripple’s summary judgment motion, and ordered Tetragon to pay well over $3 million in fees to Ripple.
  • We secured a complete dismissal of all claims against BProtocol Foundation and its founders in a class action securities lawsuit seeking over $100m in rescission for the alleged issuance of unregistered securities. The resultant decision, Holsworth v. BProtocol Found., No. 20 CIV. 2810 (AKH), 2021 WL 706549 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 22, 2021), makes important new law regarding the high threshold to hold crypto token issuers liable for soliciting purchases on secondary market exchanges, the challenges to rescission claims against token issuers, and the applicability to crypto trading of Morrison’s bar against adjudicating foreign transactions in the U.S.
  • We represent Civic and Quantstamp, as well as various individuals, in pending civil litigations similar to the BProtocol class action that likewise seek damages and rescission for the alleged issuance of unregistered securities.
  • We represent Rothesay in litigation over the ownership of a cryptocurrency-enabled sports betting enterprise and related intellectual property and trademarks.
  • We represent a large number of stakeholders and bondholders of Wirecard AG, one of the most prominent issuers of cryptocurrency debit cards, in pending insolvency proceedings involving the company.
  • We represented Ripple in civil litigation involving fraud and breach of contract claims related to multiple agreements, including an option grant for 5 billion units of the cryptocurrency XRP.
  • We defended Gems.org on a trademark infringement claim by BitVault, Inc. involving the Gems cryptocurrency and protocol for microtasking using the Ethereum blockchain.
  • We obtained a preliminary injunction on behalf of Alibaba Group Holding Limited to prevent trademark infringement by a foreign cryptocurrency issuer and promoter.  It is one of the first such victories in the blockchain/cryptocurrency field anywhere in the United States, and the first by a major Chinese technology company.
  • We represent a cryptocurrency investor, a digital asset platform, and a cryptocurrency start-up CEO in separate SEC investigations regarding compliance with registration provisions and other aspects of federal securities laws.
  • We represent a major fintech company in private arbitration proceedings in the United States and Singapore involving trademark and other disputes and relating to the cryptocurrency sector.
  • We represent a major fintech company in multiple confidential arbitrations involving cryptocurrency-related disputes.
  • We represent a confidential whistleblower who uncovered fraud in an initial token offering.
  • We commenced Delaware proceedings and utilized subpoena powers to trace and recover funds stolen from a cryptocurrency investor by a hacker, successfully identifying the hacker in this process.
  • We represent a high net worth cryptocurrency investor with claims for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty against a cryptocurrency exchange.
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