We live in an era of disruptive technologies today. These technologies are swiftly changing and evolving the way we live and carry out our businesses. If I say this is the most fluid period in the history of human kinds, then it won’t be an exaggeration.
I say so because technologies today are outperforming one and another in record time.
Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Virtualization, Deep Learning, Blockchain, etc. have now become the hottest subjects talking about the extensive struggle of technological developments. Technological developments and intellectual property rights (IPRs) are supplementary and complementary to each other.
The quick influx in technology demands related IP laws to stay in tandem with such growth.
IP offices around the world perceive a rapid surge of patent applications related to Artificial Intelligence, Virtualization, Cloud Computing, Blockchain technology, Internet of Things, and associated distributed ledger technologies.
Though the IP communities around the world are worried about using judicious IP laws to keep these emerging technologies protected, the actual strength of these technologies should be devised in the IP land itself by taking advantage of their mettle to take note of challenges starting from the origin of an expected IP to its enforcement.
These innovative technologies could be utilized in numerous applications such as re-creating processes of prosecution, IPRs protection, their promotions and enforcement.
What is blockchain technology?
Blockchain is a decentralized, peer-to-peer network-based public, encrypted and immutable digital federated ledger system. The shared decentralized ledger is maintained by the participants themselves who work without any third-party intervention.
The non-interference of any third party in the decentralized ledger makes it tamper-proof as no one can tinker with the data kept in the blockchain without being informed.
It allows for multi-dimensional utility as it is capable of storing almost any type of data; be it transactional information, cryptocurrency, design data, contractual data, and so on.
This innovative technology is an exciting proposition in today’s time, thanks to its unique features such as traceability, immutability, and non-intervention of any third party.
The immutable technology stores data in encrypted blocks built of codes, which are independently time-stamped and contain individual transactional data. These blocks are linked making use of hash pointers to bring about a chain i.e. a blockchain.
The participants, i.e. nodes, help in maintaining the ledger in a decentralized manner where no one can make any transaction without the consent of the network participants.
How does blockchain relate to intellectual property rights?
IP and Blockchain relate to each other, whereby the IP system helps in protecting blockchain on one hand, and blockchain helps in strengthening the IP regime on the other.
IP protecting Blockchain
As the world is using blockchain to leverage unidentified potentials of numerous industries, intellectual property (IP) is sure to play an indispensable role, in the long run.
Steady growth has been witnessed in the number of entities, which are looking forward to securing patents over technology taking advantage of blockchain as a base.
How does blockchain help strengthen the IP regime?
A mature intellectual property system requires verifiable, traceable and strong data of IP rights.
Today, where each IP office maintains IP records in silos; there is the least chances of the information not being in sync. In such a scenario, determining the authenticity of the information and its regular updates is the biggest challenge to handle.
As blockchain is advancing, IP offices throughout the world are getting immensely benefited by harnessing the power of these technologies to maintain their IP registers.
The reliability, immutability, efficiency, security, and federated attributes of blockchain could be useful throughout the lifecycle of IP rights whether it is registration, licensing, enforcement and contractual agreements. So, blockchain technology is potential enough to be exploited and leveraged in the following activities:
Creation of IP
It can establish evidence of first inventorship (in patents)/creatorship (in copyright)/first use in trade (in trademarks). Not only will this identify the rightful creator/inventor/proprietor, but also help in reducing a considerable amount of litigations.
Transmission of data on the blockchain while filing for IP rights
It helps in transmitting records on the blockchain while you are filing for the IP rights.
The transmitted and maintained records of information will function as sufficient evidentiary value and ascertain the rights of the first filer in a “First-to-File” regime.
Besides, the technology also helps in negating any likelihood of tampering with the database.
Synchronized search databases
It also helps in synchronizing the external and internal search database. This can even be used to assist the patent examiners when it comes to the invention for further anticipation by offering a standalone consolidated platform for patent literature.
Recordkeeping, ledger maintenance and data verification
The IP offices around the world are maintaining IP registers either electronically or in paper form.
These registers help in justifying the right of the holder by working as an evidentiary source in a court of law. It even has data of later transactions of these rights.
Blockchain helps maintain these registers of records and ensures the accuracy of data and real-time updating of records if there is a transfer of rights with due audit trails.
Best of all, the technology simplifies data verification by making it totally tamperproof.
Detecting and preventing counterfeiting
Since data is secure on the blockchain, it simplifies monitoring and detecting IPR violations such as fake goods, parallel imports etc and gives evidence of genuineness.
It also helps custom authorities detect counterfeit goods and prevents their entry into the domestic market.
Technology is also extremely useful when it comes to the prevention of the sale of counterfeit drugs in any nation by keeping track of every step of its supply chain network.
Licensing, contractual agreements and IP rights management
Smart contracts also help license IP rights and associated contractual agreements; as the smart blockchain contracts allow for the self-tracking terms and their apt execution, real-time payment and maintaining immutable proof of their execution etc.
Blockchain-based IP data helps manage IP rights as the data about both the rights and the right-holders plus the prospective & probable users are accessible on a real-time verifiable basis.
Advantages to micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)
If the data about expired & enforced IP rights come on the blockchain, it helps the MSMEs when it comes to investing in their resources in the free domain without violating others’ rights and even use the technologies for which the IP rights have already expired.
Better enforcement mechanism
The legitimacy of IP rights and their holders, thus, help the enforcement agencies in settling the IP issues expeditiously if the IP data becomes accessible on the blockchain.
After reading the article about blockchain technology and how it disrupts the IP system, we hope that you would like to know which company can best guide you through the use of blockchain technology in processing IP applications, maintaining IP records, smart contracts, licensing, management and enforcement of IP rights.
If you have any questions about Blockchain technology or need some experts’ advice, we would be happy to answer them in the comment section below.