IP or intellectual property refers to anything created using one’s intellect such as a poem, an art, a business plan, inventions and so on. IP is protected by laws in the form of patents, trademarks and copyrights, which help the owner to earn recognition and financial benefits from their creations. Today we will discuss how blockchain can be used in the light of IP.

Intellectual Property Theft

The average company loses about $102 million in revenue per year owing to IP infringement and this number keeps on increasing. With the ease of availability of Internet, it has become very easy to copy digital assets. Sharing these after copying takes less than a minute. Hence, there exists a lack of obstacles in this replication process which keeps adding to the loss of revenue faced by the owners of these digital assets. Software piracy is an example of the losses faced in revenue owing to digital and copyright infringement.

In 2015, it’s estimated that $9 billion in unlicensed software was installed on computers in the United States. Read in detail here.

Blockchain

Blockchain technology has been around for quite some time now and now the people even know it as a technology behind cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Blockchain is actually an immutable ledger of information that can be used to track transaction and record them. These transactions are verified by the peers and then are stored in cryptographically connected blocks.Blockchain create an environment of transparency and trust among the people and organization. The trust is developed by the decentralization of the blockchain that not one single person can decide what will be entered into the blockchain. Once more than 50% of the parties agree on something a new block is generated. This newly generated block is then transmitted to all the people on the network, they calculate a mathematical puzzle for it and then submit it to the ledger.

Read more articles about blockchain technology.

Blockchain beyond Cryptocurrency

Blockchain has a huge rage of applications beyond cryptocurrency. Its ledger can hold various forms of data ranging from images to videos, from text to audio and this technology is growing everyday. New types of ledgers are introduced everyday like hashgraph software that is solving the scalability issues.

How Blockchain can help with Intellectual Property

Blockchain and other related distributed ledger technologies offer many prospects for the

  1. Protection
  2. Registration
  3. Evidence

of these IP. It can also potentially speed up such processes in a much more cost effective way. Some other likely use cases would be:

  1. Evidence of creator-ship
  2. Provenance authentication
  3. Registration and clearance of IP rights
  4. Control and track unregistered IP
  5. Management of Digital Rights
  6. Enforcement and establishment of agreements through smart contracts
  7. Transmission of payments in real times to all respective IP owners.

Not to mention blockchain technology can also be used for the identification and retrieval of counterfeit, stolen and parallel-imported goods.

Let’s dive into detail how blockchain technology will achieve the above stated points.

Immutability

The blockchain ledgers consist of records whose time stamps have been stored and they cannot be altered by any means. So, we would easily be able to determine when an IP was created and who is the real owner. As a result of this, owners can easily enforce their rights if an incident of infringement occurs. With blockchain it has become very easy to track subsequent changes made to the IP and also to track the use of subsequent copies of the IP, thus eliminating cheap replication as now the owners will be able to know exactly who is using the IP and how.

Fast and accurate verification

The registration process for formal IP rights can become more streamlined owing to blockchain like in the case of patents. A decentralized registration system can verify the rights of a person to an IP quickly. This faster verification processes can save businesses’ wait time for patents and trademarks and thus they will be able to innovate more quickly.

Terms and agreements

Just like the ledgers play an important role in storing the transaction history of the digital assets, there is an another important part of the blockchain technology which are the smart contracts. The smart contracts would play a huge part in the enforcement of IP by licensing agreements. Not only that smart contracts enable owners to set their own terms and conditions and make sure that they are carried out but also, smart contracts also help to license content directly to end users thus eliminating the need for middlemen, which increases the risk of infringement.

Anti-counterfeiting

One of the many industries that is going to benefit from blockchain technology is the supply chain industry. Everyone in the supply chain would be able to validate who owns what. But a bigger plus point would be that customers and customer authorities would be able to distinguish a fake product from a genuine one. Blockchain ledgers also provides provenance authentication, as it records verifiable details about when and where the products were made, the manufacturing process details and their sources of raw materials. Hence customers are able to verify the authenticity of the product and help businesses to attain the trust of their customers.

Supply Chain Management

Once owners start to track their goods on an immutable blockchain, they can easily enforce their distribution contract agreements. Also, leaks in the distribution system would be easy to identify and so would grey market activity and parallel imports. Regulatory requirements and validation of warranties would also be possible this way e.g. in pharmaceutical supply chain industry.

Read in detail about supply chain in a blog: Blockchain improving supply chain

“Smart” IP rights

The potential of using blockchain technology for the IP rights is huge. Storing these IP rights in an immutable ledger by writing smart contracts for that and not using traditional databases will turn these IP rights into smart IP rights.
If the IP offices starts using the distributed ledger technology to create smart IP. Making the IP office having most of the control of the blockchain and being the responsible authority for these IP rights. This ledger implementation can still give them there own immutable ledger and transparency of the records.It could include when a trademark was first applied for, registered, first used in trade; when a design, trademark or patent was licensed, assigned, and so on. It would also resolve the practicalities of collating, storing and providing such evidence.
Tracking the entire life cycle of a right have many benefits, including smoother audit.

Summing it up…!

Many government agencies and intellectual property registries like the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) are now exploring the capabilities of blockchain. Similarly, the US Congress recently created a Congressional Blockchain Caucus. Different organizations are now discussing global standards to be followed and developed for these self-executing smart contracts.

Contact Devprovider for your blockchain business solutions.