Unpicking the Gordian knot around blockchain patents

By September 25, 2016Bitcoin Business

Dr. Justin Hill is a partner at Olswang and co-head of patent prosecution. As a patent attorney, he advises on a broad range of IP matters, covering the procurement, exploitation and enforcement of IP rights internationally. How to join the network Earliest mentions of the term “bitcoin” in patent titles and abstracts date back to around 2009, while the term “blockchain” begins to appear in patent titles from around 2011. As of June 22, 2016, there were 492 published patent families directed to the theme of blockchain and 192 relating to bitcoin. Patent applications filed over the last year and a half would not be visible in these statistics, and it is expected that significant numbers of new patent applications connected to these themes have been filed in that period. The numbers we are seeing likely represent the tip of the iceberg. It’s tricky to say exactly who’s filing these patents, but, anecdotally, the early-stage business community is out-innovating the incumbent banking organizations by some measure, and are likely to be responsible for much of this innovation. A recent Reuters piece , for example, drew attention to Craig Wright’s holding company EITC Holdings limited, suggesting a total of 400 or so new patent applications in the pipeline. The patent applications are alleged to focus on mechanisms ranging from paying securely online to operating systems for implementing blockchain on the Internet of Things. Given that this evolving technology is widely anticipated to disrupt the banking sector, patent filings at these levels are not at all surprising. Indeed, it is likely that a number of geographically diffuse technology clusters, such as the fintech community in London, are busily designing blockchain architectures and will be independently building intellectual property portfolios in these areas. Does this herald a democratization of (previously jealously guarded) […]

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