Blockchain and Patents: Is It Time to Start Filing Applications?

There is no doubt about the fact that blockchain has arrived. Despite the controversial nature of the technology, it has been accepted wholeheartedly by the world and is being used in different industries today.

However, this excessive use of the technology gives rise to some concerns as well, especially after some big companies recently took a step towards applying for patents related to the blockchain.

Big US Companies File For Patents

Bank of America was among the first major corporations in the US to make a move to protect its blockchain system, which it uses to validate data externally. Another bank, Barclays, also filed not one but two patent applications, related to data storage and transfer of cryptocurrencies.

Mastercard that intends to use blockchain to create a public system also follows suit.

It is quite understandable why any company would want to apply for a patent. They spend hours and thousands of dollars to come up with an idea, which can get stolen due to no protection.

While these were among the first few major blockchain related patent applications to have been filed in the US, experts believe that the trend is going to grow especially with blockchain now being used in so many industries.

Blockchain is undoubtedly one of the hottest things of 2018, and the use is growing at a massive rate. However, we are not very far from seeing a patent war especially with patent trolls also expected to jump the bandwagon.

Why Is There a Need for Patents?

Before we understand the need for patents, let’s talk about their importance and what patents do.

A patent gives you an exclusive right to use your invention. Patents are common in all industries. For example, biotech companies apply for licenses to prevent others from making similar medicines.

Blockchain patents will work similarly. They are going to provide the inventor – who might be a person, an organization or a state – the exclusive right to manufacture or use a technology.

This removes the fear associated with making a technology public since others cannot steal it, even if they know how to.

Patents are typically filed in one country, due to there being no international patents. However, thanks to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), you can get protection in 152 countries by filing with the PCT.

Patents allow companies to make money and market their services or products better since there is no fear of ideas being stolen. Moreover, patents can also help attract investors.

According to Bloomberg, “patents are an essential ingredient for companies looking to reshape the financial services industry or spawn profitable cryptocurrency-related businesses.”

Not An Entirely New Battle

This is not the first time that one has heard of blockchain patents. The idea first came to light in 2012, but did not have prominent organisations involved back then.

A record number of blockchain related patents (97) were filed in 2017, and the number is expected to grow to 1,245 by the end of the year, according to Fortune.

China Is The Leader

This might come as a surprise to many, but China appears to be leading the pack when it comes to blockchain patents with about half of all blockchain patent applications last year coming from China.

Image: Jack Moreh

Related post:

How Blockchain is Influencing the Gaming Industry

Michael Wight

Michael is a freelance writer with special interest in finance and technology. He regularly trades cryptocurrencies and loves to share his knowledge with others.

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