Over ten thousand years ago, humans began learning to use shells to trade for materials. Shells eventually turned into currency. Now, with the development of the Internet, digital currency has begun to circulate and is gradually replacing traditional currency.
Unprecedented changes in payment methods are coming about as a result. The sudden emergence of cryptocurrencies such as BitCoin, Ethereum, and LiteCoin have forced the financial world to meet these changes head-on and to consider systemic changes. Cryptocurrencies have been able to develop unhindered by the traditional financial system because they are backed by a key technology – the blockchain.
What is the Blockchain? Where to Look for Related Patents?
The book Blockchain: Reshaping the Economy and the World¹ explains that a blockchain is a public database that records transactions done with it, and which is well-protected against outside interference. It’s a distributed system that is not stored on a specific server or node, but is instead distributed across innumerable nodes on the web, where every node only keeps a portion of the whole. The blockchain is also a consensus protocol where everything follows the same rules. Blockchains serve in turn as the fundamental technology behind cryptocurrencies. Identity verification, medical records, market forecasting, capital transactions and other applications have gradually begun adopting blockchain technology. To understand the larger picture of blockchain-related patent applications around the world, the definitions of blockchain, distributed ledger, and smart contract can be used to expand your search rather than just limiting the search to patents that use the word “blockchain”. (The search queries used here in this blog post are attached at the end. Derwent Innovation users are free to reuse them²).
Since different blockchains have different forms, not all blockchain technologies have used patent protection. However, blockchain technologies that have been protected with patents hold more interest. Considering technology disclosures and the high cost of application fees, why has patent protection been chosen for some blockchain technologies?
With blockchain technologies, the majority of those employing patent strategies come from the information technology or financial industries.
A search with Derwent Innovation reveals that 631 patent families (1853 patents) exist worldwide, of which roughly 75% (465 patent families) have been granted³. The main blockchain patent assignees are as follows:
|Top players||Number of patents||Industry|
|SECURITY FIRST CORP||64||IT|
|TORONTO DOMINION BANK||19||Finance/Finteh|
|ACCENTURE GLOBAL SERVICES LTD||11||Consultants|
|BANK OF AMERICA||8||Finance/Finteh|
|JIANGSU TONGFUDUN TECHNOLOGY||7||Finance/Finteh|
|RIBBIT.ME USA INC||7||Blockchain|
|DIGITAL ASSET HOLDINGS||6||Blockchain|
Source: Derwent Innovation