Patent rush won’t impede blockchain innovation

October, 2017

A rush to protect intellectual capital related to the blockchain does not signal the start of a potentially innovation-stifling patent war, but rather is a sign that the technology is moving into the corporate mainstream.
 
According to companies in the financial services and technology industry, a recent avalanche of blockchain-related patent applications reflects both the technology’s immense potential and the huge investments companies are making into blockchain innovation. “More importantly, these moves show that the companies believe their research has led to unique breakthroughs and applications,” says Richard Johnson, Vice President of Market Structure and Technology at Greenwich Associates and author of the new report, Blockchain Patents Signify the Potential of the Technology.
 
To date, there have been over 800 patent applications filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office related to bitcoin, blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT). This new Greenwich Report highlights the most notable blockchain patents to date, and examines how the awarding of these patents will affect future development. It also notes that while the goal of open-source is to allow for innovation in the software community and the trend to protect intellectual property may be in opposition, 59% of industry executives Greenwich Associates spoke to see no conflict.
 
“From the first release of the open-source bitcoin code, blockchain was based on a foundation of decentralization and open innovation,” Johnson says. “Despite the rush of patent applications, that spirit remains strong in the industry today, as developers focus on building solutions that can potentially transform financial services and beyond.”