Walmart’s “Smart Package” patent employs a Blockchain-based tool to track package contents, environmental conditions, location, and other details. The device described in the application is intended to be used in new technologies like autonomous vehicles and unmanned drones.
According to the application, Blockchain will record the "key addresses along the chain” such as “seller private key address, a courier private key address, and a buyer private key address."
In the patent application, Walmart noted the need to design a tool providing “greater security in the shipping packaging that the items are shipped in.” The application says that the existing tracking instruments do not yet provide “such desired functionality”. Walmart first filed its “Smart Package” application in August, 2017, reports Fintech Finance.
“Smart Package” is not the first instance of Walmart utilizing Blockchain technology. In November, 2016, Walmart partnered with IBM to use Blockchain to detect and remove recalled foods from its products list.
Blockchain technology has been popular with shipping and delivery companies. The US shipping company UPS joined the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA) in November, 2017. Singaporean port operator PSA International struck a deal with IBM to test and develop a Blockchain-based supply chain network in August, 2017, according to Fintech Finance.
In the United States, publication of a non-provisional patent application happens 18 months before its earliest effective priority date. Once published, a patent application can be used by the USPTO to reject third party patent applications for related technology.