The first patent was filed in 1790 by Samuel Hopkins, and since then, millions of patents have been filed globally. Patents are used to prevent theft of great ideas and concepts by arming their rightful owners with a means of legal recourse. According to the 1883 Paris Convention, patent laws reach beyond the country of origin and should be respected internationally. Unfortunately, the patent process has become highly complex and costly, slowing down the creation and proliferation of ideas. How can blockchain technology help?
First, blockchain makes the entire Intellectual Property (IP) process smarter. Governments can take advantage of blockchain’s technology and greatly improve ownership rights by transforming current IP recording methods with a blockchain ledger that is both immutable and completely secure. Blockchain based record keeping will also be more efficient in the areas of data storage cost and safety as there is no need for centralized servers in a decentralized blockchain system.
According to Patentlibrarian.com, 726,218 patent documents were published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2017. The cost affiliated with patents can exceed $10,000 in attorney and filing fees alone, and this doesn’t even begin to include costs for product development of a prototype. Blockchain can reduce costs associated with IP process inefficiencies and provide immutable proof of ownership. This leaves more funds in the pocket of the patent owners to spend on product needs that bring their ideas to fruition.
The opportunities for using Blockchain technology in the landscape of IP are virtually endless. Blockchain driven startups are finding solutions to these problems spread throughout today’s traditional IP system. Here are some startups trying to tackle the IP issues head-on using blockchain technology:
Bernstein, a European based company, is offering blockchain solutions to secure intellectual property assets and various innovation processes. According to their website: “Our platform allows companies to create a digital trail of records of their innovation processes using blockchain technology. Inventions, designs, and proofs of use can be quickly registered to obtain blockchain certificates that prove ownership, existence and integrity of any IP asset.” This is a prime example of how blockchain technology can assure privacy and accurate record keeping reducing costs related to IP.
LOCI is a U.S. based company that has developed a way to streamline the patenting process through blockchain technology. Through its suite of products, it allows everyday inventors to conduct their own prior art searches for free, saving these individuals valuable time and money they would otherwise have to spend on patent attorneys. LOCI’s latest product, Invention Analysis, utilizes machine learning and scrapes the web of millions of global patents to give inventors a score that indicates whether or not their ideas are unique enough to pursue. If they aren’t, the system provides guidance on how to refine the idea for an improved likelihood of novelty. At any point in this process, inventors can stake their idea on the blockchain which serves as immutable proof of their idea and can be used to help them defend their rights to their IP on a global scale.
LEXIT is a blockchain-based marketplace designed to buy and sell companies, Intellectual Property and assets. Through blockchain technology, token economics, and a centralized platform, LEXIT allows M&A processes to be concluded four times as fast, at about a quarter of the traditional costs. Entrepreneurs are empowered to discover the true value of their assets on a vibrant and highly liquid marketplace,
without having to bear overpriced prepayments. And most importantly – an efficient market for IP and patents is established, allowing companies to trade assets as conveniently as one would buy or sell a car or real estate.
There is no question that we will see more companies emerge from the IP space taking advantage of blockchain technology solving costly problems. Innovators are losing money every day due to patent infringement and this will continue until we integrate blockchain technology into the government’s archaic IP system. The industry will make great strides towards improving ownership rights by upgrading the patent process while simultaneously reducing cost. With blockchain, we will see an acceleration of ideas that make it through the patent process and become a reality.