Coinbase Fights SEC in Court

Coinbase Fights SEC in Court


By Jakub Lazurek

25 May 2024 (about 1 month ago)

2 min read


Coinbase battles the SEC in a landmark legal case, seeking clarity on crypto regulations that could significantly impact the US crypto industry.

The ongoing legal tussle between Coinbase and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken another turn. Coinbase has responded to the SEC’s petition against their motion for an interlocutory appeal, a critical development in this high-stakes regulatory case.

On April 12, Coinbase asked the US court for clarity on whether an investment contract can exist without post-sale obligations. The exchange considers this a "controlling question of law" crucial to their dispute with the SEC. The SEC countered, saying that the court does not need to certify this appeal, citing the long-standing sufficiency of the Howey Test in securities regulation. The SEC pointed out that no court has ever required a post-sale contract under this test.

In a recent Memorandum of Law on May 24, Coinbase argued that the interlocutory appeal addresses a unique issue: no appellate court has decided if a digital asset transaction without post-sale obligations can be an "investment contract" under the Howey Test. Coinbase accused the SEC of avoiding the main legal question by focusing instead on how the Howey Test applies to crypto transactions rather than their specific concern.

Coinbase emphasized the potential impact of this appeal on their case with the SEC. The exchange’s lawyers argued that a favorable ruling could invalidate over 70% of the SEC's claims. They noted, "Most of the SEC’s recent document requests and subpoenas target Coinbase’s platform and Prime services, not the staking program. This suggests a lengthy discovery process and trial heavily focused on token ecosystems, which could be dismissed with interlocutory review."

On June 6, 2023, the SEC charged Coinbase with operating as an unlicensed securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency. Given Coinbase’s status as the largest US exchange, the outcome of this case could significantly influence crypto regulations in the US.

In summary, Coinbase’s recent legal moves highlight the importance of the interlocutory appeal in their case against the SEC. They argue that this appeal addresses a novel legal issue that could have a substantial impact on the outcome of the case, potentially invalidating many of the SEC's claims. The resolution of this case is expected to have far-reaching effects on US crypto industry regulations.

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Coinbase Fights SEC in Court

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