Nine American companies are among the world’s top 10 blockchain patent acquirers, as big businesses and startups from the United States look to make advances in the technology underpinning most cryptocurrencies.
According to a survey of a total of 11,134 blockchain patents from German IP analyst IPlytics, tech giant IBM is the strongest, measured by patent family size. (Family patents are essentially patents that have been filed in more than one country. The more countries in which a patent has been filed, the higher the perceived international market potential for the patented invention.) The company owns a total of 297 patents, 185 of which are family patents.
Meanwhile, Blockchain developer nChain, affiliated with one of the main backers of Bitcoin SV, Craig Wright, often dubbed Faketoshi, led the way in terms of individual patents, having filed 443 of them. As a reminder, in May, Wright made headlines with his attempt to copyright the original Bitcoin white paper and Bitcoin code (version 0.1).
The lone non-American company making the IPlytics top 10 is the UK’s British Telecom (BT) – formerly a state-owned telecoms provider – which placed at number 7 in the rankings.
Other big companies making the top 10 were Intel, placing at number 2, as well as Accenture, Visa, Mastercard, Microsoft and bank MBNA.
The IPlytics figures also reveal that 4,673 blockchain patents were filed in 2018, a figure almost three times as high as 2017’s total. And as of April, 2,354 patent filings have already been filed in 2019.
The by-country analysis also revealed that Americans dominated proceedings – coming top with 4,948 applications, with China a distant second, followed by two European countries (Germany and the UK), and South Korea in fifth.
Meanwhile, in 2017, out of a total of 406 patents filed, 225 were filed by China, followed by the U.S. with 91 filings, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The recent report by the German company was not overly optimistic about the monetization of blockchain. Its authors stated, “We are yet to see where blockchain technology will be applied in the commercial sector. While large corporations such as IBM and Intel have started to build blockchain IP portfolios, most patent ownership is still fragmented.”
And per Herald Kyungjae, the South Korean government’s hardline stance on cryptocurrencies may be to blame for the country’s less-than-impressive showing in the IPlytics standings.
The media outlet quotes an unnamed industry spokesperson as saying, “Seoul is promoting blockchain as a growth engine for the economy, but it is difficult for companies to invest heavily in obtaining blockchain patents as they are not permitted to work with cryptocurrencies.”
Also, in related news, Mitsubishi Electric and Yaskawa Electric are among 100 major Japanese manufacturers set to share production data with each other to improve efficiency, using blockchain technology to ensure their information remains secure, Nikkei reported today.