China filed the most blockchain patents with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2017, according to Thomson Reuter’s statistics. The organization provides patents to individuals or groups, which gives them exclusive rights over their products, inventions or ideas.
A total of 406 patents were submitted last year; 225 of those came from China, followed by 91 from the US and 13 from Australia. After bans on ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges, people expected China to issue stricter rules for blockchain technology as well. However, the country’s positive stance towards distributed ledger technology is providing a glimmer of hope.
Other countries are also aware of the importance of blockchain, which is why Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law’s editor, Alex Batteson, said, “Companies are moving fast in order to protect their ideas in new areas of technological development — long before the technology actually goes to market”. Batteson added that patents not only give businesses a right to their product, but also potential investors in the future. Simply put, people want to invest in companies or ideas that are original in order to avoid ownership conflicts.
On March 21st, the South Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) reported that they had received 1,248 blockchain-related patents in 2017, compared with 594 in 2016 and 258 in 2015. Once again, most of these came from the EU, Japan, South Korea, the US and China, with the last two countries leading 78% of those applications. Even the KIPO said, “It is expected that China will take the first place in cumulative number of cases soon.”
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that they will create a standardization committee for blockchain technology on March 12th. The Investment Association of China (IAC) also launched the Global Blockchain Investment and Development Center (GBIDC) on March 15th to push for blockchain development in the country. According to the IAC, “We will vigorously promote R&D, application, promotion, investment and innovation of blockchains in China, [and] strengthen the integration and international cooperation of blockchain resources.”
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