The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently reported that there were at least 1,060 patents for blockchain that were approved in 2018.
China was the top nation for receiving patents with 790 patents approved, followed by the United States with 762 approvals, South Korea with161 approvals, and Australia with 132 approvals. The United Kingdom was the only European country to be included in the top 10 country list and had 36 patents approved.
The WIPO also reported that nChain Holdings Limited was the most active firm in the blockchain patent space. nChain is based in the Unite Kingdom but also applied for and received approval for blockchain patent applications in Australia, Canada and India.
The concept of blockchain and crypto-currency patents is a sensitive issue that is being looked at governments around the world since these patents create a number of potential legal problems.
The majority of blockchain projects that are asking for patent approval and protections are based upon the concept of decentralization and open source codes, which makes the concept of Intellectual Property (IP) difficult to define, categorize and approve and also offers legal challenges. Simply put, if blockchain code is “open” then by definition of it being “open” then it can’t be owned by a single person or corporate entity.
Although this is a legal issue that will ultimately have to be litigated in courts, in 2018 and 2019 it does not appear to be deterring firms or individuals from continuing to apply for patents so that they can safeguard their IP, as WIPO reports that they have already granted 240+ blockchain and crypto-currency patents in the first two months of this year.