As Blockchain approaches worldwide acceptance, many firms are in a race to acquire as many blockchain patents as possible, with IBM currently leading the way as one of the firms with the most patents.
While this is a sign of progress, there is the question of just how valid intellectual property rights are with regards to blockchain, especially since they are assumed inbe based on open source codes.
The team at Hard Fork embarked on a research project which included scouring the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) website and searching with terms such as blockchain, block chain, Bitcoin, virtual currencies, virtual currency, digital currencies, digital currency, digital token, and smart contract. Once done, they made some interesting discoveries.
The Findings of the Study
The study discovered that 2018 was the best year for blockchain patents as a total of 1,060 patents were published during that time, followed by 2017 which saw 971 patents being published. This is rather ironic considering 2017 saw Bitcoin reach its peak value and 2018 saw Bitcoin experience a Crash.
Patents for blockchain-related projects began emerging around 2012, though only 241 have actually been granted.
Another discovery is that China as country has the most blockchain patents in the world despite the fact that cryptocurrencies are banned there. In total, China has 790 approved Blockchain patents, with the United States taking the second position with 762. Europe seems to be trailing behind in this regard as the United Kingdom is the only European nation in the top 10 with 26 patents approved.
In terms of organizations that have the most patents, nChain Holdings is the most successful. The firm is based in London but has patents approved in other jurisdictions such as India and Australia. Not surprising, IBM was second on the list with 119 patents. Other entries include Mastercard (111), Coinplug (84), and Alibaba (60).
There are also individuals who hold many patents, the most prominent of whom is Craig Steven Wright, who is the chief scientist of nChain holdings with 95 patents to his name. He has also famously claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto.
Lastly, there was some noticeable disparity between blockchain and Cryptocurrency patents’ popularity. 2,127 of the 2,747 patents had the term ‘blockchain’ in their description while only 260 had the terms ‘crypto’, ‘virtual currency,’ or ‘digital currency’ in their description.
Should the number of blockchain patents continue to rise steadily, the Blockchain domination isn’t far from sight.