The Patent War
The biggest tech companies have started on the race for blockchain patents. What to make from it? Is it a good thing, or not? Who has the most patents in the world?
According to historians, patents were on this world earlier than Christ. Or at least their predecessors existed in Ancient Greece. The modern patent system has been developing since the XV century in Venice. Since then, many inventors created great things and patented them. Why do I even write about that? Because today, we are on the brink of the new chapter in patent history.
The race is on!
You may ask yourself what the heck I am talking about. Blockchain patents – that’s what I’m describing here. Patents are very important for new developments. They provide their owners with the right to exclude others from exploiting the patented technology.
At the very beginning of blockchain, patenting new developments weren’t typical for the industry. The situation changed in 2013 when patenting of blockchain-related technologies exploded.
Five years later, we are at the beginning of the patent war. The biggest companies in the world are racing for more and more patents. Samsung, Verizon, Deloitte, Walmart, Boeing, Bank of America, Facebook, and Daimler are among those big organizations, which have filed blockchain-related patents.
Patent wars aren’t something new. They have been known for over a century now. But blockchain patent war has just begun. Don’t get me wrong: it had to happen. But is it a good thing, or not?
Who leads the way?
It can be a positive trend. At least, it shows that the biggest players in the tech industry are interested in blockchain. It confirms that blockchain is the technology of the future.
On the other hand, let’s look at who has most of all patents. In the United States, IBM leads the way with over 100 patents now. What does the situation look on the globe? Alibaba has the highest number of registered blockchain-related patents. The Chinese giant has filed over 260 of those.
At the beginning of June, NS Business published a report about blockchain patents filed between 2016 and 2017.
Blockchain patents by country and company (Credit: Withers & Rogers) / ns-businesshub.com
So, there is a concern, at least in my mind, that too many patents will be in the hands of several companies, which would eventually slow down the development process of the technology. However, that may not be the case if lawmakers are right. They claim that patent on an algorithm is directed to an abstract idea, and is likely going to be rejected in court.
Also, there are companies, which make their developments open to the public. Thanks to that, there is hope that tech giants won’t dictate entire development of technology. Of one thing I’m certain, though: the next few years will be very interesting for patent regulations, and the shape of them can speed up or slow down the growth of our industry.
In the end, I just want to recall wise words of Kalyan C. Kankanala:
“The strength of a patent doesn’t come from its claims, it comes from the invention.”
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