Although many people are still unclear about the difference between blockchain and Bitcoin, the importance of blockchain for future development has been widely recognized by the public. With the frequent voices of governments of various countries and the rapid actions of some leading companies at home and abroad in recent years, some projects have been implemented, such as games, electronic certificate deposit, supply chain finance, and other fields. There are some applications that ordinary users can already have direct access to it such as blockchain invoices, medical claims, cross-border transfers, etc.; and some developments will greatly affect people’s lifestyles and patterns once they are implemented. For example, many countries including China are considering issuing digital currencies.
Based on the Derwent Innovation search, this article analyzes the current overall innovation trend in the field of blockchain for published patent that have been registered all over the world.
According to the 2020 Blockchain Global Patent Authorization Report, there are 3924 blockchain-related issued patents to date. U.S. patents account for 39%, South Korea 21%, and China ranked third with a share of 19%. These are the top three countries where most of the blockchain developments are expected in future.
According to the number of authorized patents, these patentees can be divided into 3 levels. The first level is a patentee with more than 100 authorized patents, of which Alibaba (including Alipay) ranks first, with 212 authorized patents worldwide, far ahead in the field of blockchain patent ranking. On second place IBM has 136 patents that are also playing a big role in adoption of blockchain technology. Coinplug and Accenture are in third and fourth place with 107 and 49 patents respectively. Although the numbers of patents held by Alibaba are significantly higher than other companies, still China is in third place mainly due to 126 patents of Alibaba out of 212 are registered in the US.
On the other hand, 2020 has the highest number of blockchain related patents registered in the first 5 months even in the presence of pandemic. In 2019, a total of 1799 patents were awarded to various countries but in 2020 in the first five months alone a total of 1257 patents have been awarded already all around the world.
Considering the 1257 patents in 2020 till May, this can be the biggest year with regard to the number of patents awarded to the various companies.
Blockchain technology is generally considered to have a high development threshold, multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary comprehensiveness, and technical difficulty. Companies that are in the product development process need to invest large research & development costs. Therefore, patent information can reflect the research and development strength of a company in a certain field and the technological advancement of its products from one aspect. However, patents have a long way to go from application to authorization.
For example, inventions need to undergo preliminary examination, disclosure, and rigorous substantive examination before they can be granted. The process is long and requires high requirements. Therefore, it is not easy to obtain authorization in the end. In addition to the need for the technology itself to be relatively strong and with sufficient innovation, it also requires the close integration of the application subject such as the intellectual property team of the enterprise/institution and the agency, and the high cost to apply for and maintain the patent. But the growth in blockchain-related technology is significant in comparison with other technology and it’s just a start.