The EPO hosted a conference this week on “Patenting Blockchain.” https://www.epo.org/learning-events/events/conferences/blockchain2018.html
Representatives from European, Chinese and Japanese Patent Offices and stakeholders provided some insights on the current blockchain patent landscape.
Here are some highlights from their presentations. I broke them down into two categories according to information on existing blockchain patent filing activity and examining blockchain patent claims.
1. Blockchain Patent Landscape
Yann Ménière, EPO Chief Economist reported:
- Sharp increase in blockchain patent filings since 2016.
- 2220 patent families first published globally in 2018.
- 40% of blockchain patent families were filed in China.
- 20% of blockchain patent families were filed in USA.
Mariek Flament and Claire Wells of Circle reported on blockchain technology and business activity:
- 280% growth in investment in blockchain between 2017-2018.
- 2900 blockchain/crypto patents filed between 2013-2017.
- 55% of blockchain patents came from China.
- $28 million blockchain wallets worldwide.
- Countries with most blockchain developers: US (45,000), India (20,000), UK. (13,000).
2. Blockchain Patent Claims
Koen Lievens, EPO Patent Examination Director of Operations, reported in China:
- Blockchain inventions examined as computer-implemented inventions (CII).
- Claims must pass a “technicality analysis” in examination.
Nobuyuki Yanoguchio et al. reported in Japan:
- Surge in blockchain patent applications since 2015.
- High use of accelerated examination for blockchain patents.
- High allowance rate for business-related inventions.
- Hurdle of eligibility is easier to pass.
- Inventive step also considers non-technical features.
Wang Xinyi gave examples of blockchain claims that meet technical solution prong in China for patenting:
- Yes: Financial Use Food traceability
A method for realizing shared retail based on block chain, comprising : establishing and maintaining network nodes and providing an API calling interface at a protocol layer; …… wherein the protocol layer further comprises a network layer used for guaranteeing security of each node in a network according to a consensus mechanism and a storage layer used for storing structured data of the block chain; and the expansion layer further comprises a consumer contract module, a processor module, a producer module, a retailer module and a consumer module；
- Yes: Technical Improvement
A method for constructing electronic evidence, comprising: generating the unique, and fixed length digital summary of the applicant’s electronic data; providing a Merkel tree of the electronic evidence blockchain system; constructing the electronic evidence block chain system with time stamp; providing the block in the electronic evidence block chain system an index.
- No: Currency Clearing
A multi-layer block chain clearing method wherein a father chain is connected with a sub-chain, comprising : receiving a public key address for transferring virtual money; issuing virtual money at the father chain and transferring the virtual money to the sub-chain and the public key address; recording the transferred virtual money amount of the sub-chain at the public key address; …… performed the clearing process according to the amount of virtual money at the public key address.
- No: Pure Algorithm
A method for mining a block comprising a block header, as a function of a selected hash function applied on the block header, the selected hash function comprising an expansion operation and a compression operation, the method comprising the steps of: developing a plurality, m, of mid-states, each as a function of selectively varying a selected first portion of the block header; performing the expansion operation on a selected second portion of the block header to produce a message schedule; and for each of the m mid-states, performing the compression operation on the mid-state and the message schedule, to produce a respective one of m results.