Moving towards blockchain registration control of Patents and Intellectual Property

As blockchain technology becomes mainstream, industry participants and blockchain developers will increasingly have to collaborate to develop standards and interoperability protocols.

The World Intellectual Property Association has an article in WIPO magazine, “Blockchain and IP law: a match made in crypto heaven?” by Birgit Clark, Baker McKenzie, London, United Kingdom on Feb, 2018.

This article summarizes the points made in that article.

* The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is actively looking into the capabilities of blockchain
* the EU Commission has plans for a blockchain observatory
* the US Congress recently created a Congressional Blockchain Caucus.

Global standards for self-executing contracts are being discussed by various organizations.

The world is moving towards large-scale legal application of blockchain technology. There are still many questions of governing laws and jurisdictions, enforceability of smart rights, data security and privacy concerns, reliable rules and definitions for smart contracts.

“Smart” IP rights

The potential to use blockchain technology for the management of IP rights is vast. Recording IP rights in a distributed ledger rather than a traditional database could effectively turn them into “smart IP rights”.

The ability to track the entire life cycle of a right would have many benefits, including smoother IP right audits. It could also simplify the due diligence exercises that are necessary for IP transactions, for example in mergers and acquisitions.

Smart contracts and digital rights management

Smart contracts could be used to establish and enforce IP agreements such as licenses and allow the transmission of payments in real time to IP owners; “smart information” about IP rights in protected content, a song or an image, for example, could be encoded in digital form (in a music or an image file).

Anti-counterfeiting and enforcement of IP rights

A ledger showing who owns what, who is an authorized licensee, and so on would enable everyone in the supply chain, including consumers and customs authorities, to validate a genuine product and distinguish it from a fake. Blockchain ledgers holding IP rights information allow for provenance authentication

Evidence of creatorship

Uploading an original design or work and details of its designer or creator to a blockchain will create a time-stamped record and solid evidence to prove these matters.

Evidence of use of IP rights

A ledger showing who owns what offers brand owners a potential reference point for their rights and for the extent those rights are used within the market.