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Weak link

Intellectual Property Magazine

Weak link

John MMulcahy and Yanbin Xu consider the difficulties in procuringand enforcing patents on blockchain technologies

Over the past several years, we have seendramatic growth in patent applications for distributed ledger technologies suchas blockchain. Most famously implemented by Bitcoin, these technologies arepenetrating more and more sectors beyond fintech, including healthcare,autonomous transportation, supply chain management, and even IP enforcement.However, although more and more entities in more and more sectors are seekingpatents for blockchain technologies, the blockchain patent “battleground” thathas repeatedly been forecast has not yet materialised. This is largely becauseblockchain patent applications do not always result in readily enforceablepatents and, even compared with other computer-implemented technologies,detecting, and proving infringement of blockchain patents is relativelydifficult. Moreover, even when infringement is detected and provable, thefundamentally “distributed” nature of the technology often makes ituneconomical to bring suit.

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