Last week Accenture announced that they’re looking to patent an editable blockchain. In spite of the fact that the actual thing they’re trying to patent is obviously stupid, it does highlight the often underdiscussed issue of patents in the blockchain space.
Many are bracing themselves for the blockchain patent trolls. For example, Coinbase has filled a number of ‘defensive’ patents which they warrant won’t be used offensively against other startups. Whether you believe this or not, it’s becoming clear that patents will become a hot button issue in the blockchain space with many startups (and incumbents) pegging their futures to the broad adoption of the technology.
As noted in a recent Coindesk article, there are around 60 blockchain patent applications and a factor more bitcoin related ones currently going through the US Patent Office. There is a strong argument that a number of these applications will be rejected on the basis that they’re financial business methods — which have been held to be unpatentable in a number of jurisdictions. Regardless, one only need look at the broad application of the technology to realise that a legal monopoly is a highly valuable asset in the blockchain space — which is a huge incentive to keep filing patents.
So if you’re a startup, watch this space and if you’re an incumbent time to get the legal department working on those filings.