Despite Chinese firm Alibaba filing the most patents so far this year, the United States still takes the lead as the country with the most blockchain patents, a Sept. 17 report from intellectual property consultancy KISSPatent said.
IBM and Alibaba hold the most blockchain patents. Alibaba has filed more than 200 patents while IBM filed a little over 100. But other U.S.-based companies like Bank of America and Mastercard have also filed several patent applications bumping up the total for the U.S. According to KISSPatent, more blockchain patents have been filed in the first half of 2020 than all of 2019.
The U.S. has 2,112 patents, followed by the Cayman Islands with 350 filings and Canada with 118. The rest of the top six are Japan with 108, South Korea with 87 and China with 77 patents. The Cayman Islands is second as Alibaba’s subsidiaries headquartered in the British Overseas Territory filed these applications.
Although Chinese companies are often represented in various top 10 blockchain patent lists, not all of the companies work solely on blockchain. KISSPatent says these companies have blockchain applications as part of their technology portfolio. The reason China filed so many patents, the report said, was to avoid some trading sanctions overseas. It explained that:
“They’ve learned from the example of Xiaomi, the “Chinese Apple,” which was blocked from selling its smartphones in its foray out of China - because the Swedish Ericsson held so many patents.”
The most popular category of patent filing, representing half of all patents, is fintech applications. These include applications using cryptocurrencies and those supporting the storage or the exchange of cryptocurrencies. Other popular categories are patents for decentralized business platforms, solutions deployed over blockchain, business services with a financial component and healthcare and traditional banking services on a blockchain.
Many industry players have expressed concern over patent trolling, so Square helped launch the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance. The group wants to democratize access to innovative technologies.