In a bid to get a good idea of the total number of crypto and Blockchain patents filed across the globe, we had to identify key trends, gather data on the most active entities with the ecosystem and focus on specific search terms.
The research group at Hard Fork referred to data from the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) website. This was done with search terms like Blockchain, Bitcoin, block chain, virtual currencies, virtual currency, digital currency, digital token, digital currencies, and smart contract.
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The Filing Activity
The analysis discovered that, despite Bitcoin’s price declining deeply, 2018 marked the peak year for the approval of patents. Records show that 1,060 patents were published in 2018.
This was followed by two years earlier (2017) with 971 patent approvals. In 2017, Bitcoin started to trade at $998. It went on to reach its all-time high of $19,666 at the time.
In 2008, the year Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper came to the limelight, there was very little regarding Blockchain patent approval. Hard Fork’s analysis indicates that some activity occurred with one patent for a verification ‘message and transmission error detection by block chaining, which was published in 1978. This can be attributed to the search criteria employed by the researchers.
The data also shows that Blockchain patent approvals kicked off in 2012. The numbers stayed remained at the same levels until the year 2015.
Which Countries Make Up the List?
So far in 2019, WIPO has granted 242 Blockchain patents.
China ranked number one with an impressive 790 patent approvals during the course of last year.
- China is followed by the US, with 762 patent approvals.
- South Korea and Australia are next with 161 and 132 patent approvals each
- The UK was the only European state to make it into the top 10 with just 36 patent approvals.
Who is Filing These Patents?
Hard Fork’s research also looked at which companies were most active in the space. nChain Holdings Limited is the most prolific among the filers. Although a London based company, nChain received patent application approval in other jurisdictions. These jurisdictions include Canada, Australia, and India.
This is the reason why the UK wasn’t the country with the largest patent approvals. Note that Australian businessman, Craig Steven Wright, who is notorious for claiming to be the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto, is nChain Holdings’ chief scientist. He is thought to be obsessed with Blockchain patents.
The remainder of the list was dominated by tech giants and financial services startups like IBM (119), Coinplug (84), Mastercard (111), and Alibaba (60).
Two Chinese universities made the list. The Bank of America (which was at some point given the mantle of the bank with the largest Blockchain patent approvals) was no were to be seen in the top ten.
Hard Fork’s analysis also considered the most prolific individuals in patent approvals. Wright is building a patent empire after receiving approval for an impressive 95 submissions. Also, the People’s Bank of China Digital Currency Research Institute director, Yao Qian, was granted 92 patents. Joon-Sun Uhr, Zhiyong Tan, Cong Zhang, Yang Yang, and Ying Chan also made their submissions.