Filing patents is a common occurrence in any industry as companies look to gain an edge on the competition. In some cases, they’ll even file patents for solutions to problems that don’t even impact them directly, as has been seen with certain banks and their filings in the cryptocurrency and blockchain spaces. However, most often, the majority are filed by those entities who have direct relationships with the field or technology and who are working to make a difference. According to a recent report, China has three times more blockchain patent filings than does the United States.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, Chinese companies applied for 7,600 blockchain patents from 2009-2018 and accounts for more than 60% of all patents filed when combining China with the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Germany. It has led the race since 2016. On top is e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, which has filed 512 patent applications.
U.K. based nChain is up there in second place on the list, as well, having submitted 468 applications during the same period. The company has since expanded its intellectual property portfolio to include over 800 patents and patent applications. During the 2009-2018 period, IBM only filed for 248 patents, but has picked up the pace since then and has also become the leading company for blockchain employment opportunities.
It’s not difficult to understand why there is a mad rush to receive patent protection in the blockchain space. It is a revolutionary innovation that is rewriting virtually every aspect of business operations, even if it appears to be moving slowly at times, and it’s important to beat other companies to the punch. Jimmy Nguyen, the founding president of the Bitcoin Association and chair of nChain’s Strategic Advisory Board, said earlier this year, “There is a blockchain patent race going on globally. That is why it is valuable for Bitcoin SV to have nChain being one of the early and most prolific leaders in that race. nChain’s wide array of blockchain-related inventions will give the BSV ecosystem an inherent advantage over other blockchain and distributed ledger platforms. This is one reason why businesses and investors are looking to build on BSV.”
It’s also easy to understand the importance patent protection will offer in the future. The blockchain ecosystem is expected to be worth around $15.9 billion within four years—six times greater than what it is now. Much of that will be seen in the financial sector, but there will also be attention given in the manufacturing, supply chain and legal sectors, as well.
The distance between China and the U.S. in blockchain patent filings is a stark reminder of how slowly the U.S. is in adopting the technology. This reverberates across the entire country and is a clear example of how the U.S. is falling behind in technology innovation, a fear expressed on numerous occasions by legislators trying to force change at the federal level. So far, those efforts haven’t paid off the way blockchain proponents would have liked.
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