According to data from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), 2018 was the peak year for patent approvals, with records showing at least 1,060 were published during this period. This was despite Bitcoin seeing its price tank in contrast to 2017, when the cryptocurrency began trading at US$998 and peaked at an all-time high of US$19,666 before the end of the year.
China ranked at the top with 790 patent approvals, followed by the United States with 762 approvals, South Korea at 161, and Australia at 132. The United Kingdom was the only European nation to make the top 10, with 36 patent approvals.
Regarding the most active firm in the blockchain patent space, nChain Holdings Limited was found to be the most prolific. Although based in London, nChain received approval for applications made in other jurisdictions outside the UK, specifically Canada, Australia, and India.
Patents are a sensitive issue in the crypto and blockchain space, as most projects are established on the premise of decentralization and open source codes, thereby making the very concept of intellectual property (IP) in such a sector a controversial one. Although this controversy is likely to remain, it does not appear to be detering firms or individuals from continuing to safeguard their IP.
This trend is projected to persist as the industry continues evolving far beyond the original intentions of Bitcoin’s public blockchain and a technology that was once designed to circumvent centralized organizations is utilized by those very entities to maximize profit.
This year, WIPO has so far granted 242 cryptocurrency or blockchain-related patents.
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