Tech

Steve Kaaru

IBM triples blockchain patents in just one year

International Business Machines (IBM) has tripled its blockchain patents in the United States, new data has revealed. The multinational tech giant joins other leading blockchain patent owners in the country, including  nChain, which, incidentally, has filed its 666th patent application in February.

The data was collected by Yuval Halevi, the co-founder of GuerillaBuzz, a cryptocurrency and blockchain PR company. Halevi took to Twitter to share the data which shows IBM holding 108 blockchain patents. One of the latest patents acquired by the Big Blue was for a platform that will use blockchain technology to verify information shared between mobile devices in real time. According to documents published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), IBM will be out to use the platform to transform the artificial intelligence and internet of things industries.

Halevi, who is also the co-founder of Startup Stash, a site that curates tools and resources to help founders build their startups, acknowledged the implication that the heavy investment by IBM has on the blockchain industry. He stated, “When one of the largest companies in the world (366,000 employees) spends so much of their resources on developing a blockchain department, this tells a lot about the market potential.”

Jimmy Nguyen, founding President of the Bitcoin Association and also chair of the Strategic Advisory Board for nChain, explained how there’s been “a bit of a race to the patent office,” with businesses like nChain, IBM and Bank of America being prolific in filing patents.

In nChain’s case, Nguyen explained, “We are a private enterprise that invests a lot of money, time and team members into R&D development to unlock some amazing inventions—particularly out of Craig Wright’s head [nChain’s Chief Scientist]. And that has value to the world, but it costs money. And we will only invest in that if we can protect that.”

Like nChain, IBM has been investing in blockchain technology heavily. Its faith in the potential of blockchain was proven recently when despite massive layoffs at the firm, the blockchain division was barely scathed. Additionally, a report by TeqAtlas revealed that IBM is the highest blockchain employer. In March this year alone, the company had over 330 blockchain-related vacancies on its website, twice that of second-placed Oracle.

Bank of America has the second-highest number of blockchain patents in the U.S., the data showed. This is despite the bank’s tech chief recently admitting that she remains bearish when it comes to blockchain technology. But then again, Jamie Dimon bashed cryptos for years, only for JPMorgan Chase to launch its own crypto.

While IBM leads in the U.S., it has stiff competition globally. nChain remains a global leader in blockchain patents, with Chinese firms such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent also stepping up their game.

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