The EPO hosted a conference this week on “Patenting Blockchain.”

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.

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