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Introduction to Blockchain and Intellectual Property

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As blockchain continues to develop, it spreads into various areas including intellectual property.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain in its basic form is an open ledger of information, which can be used to record and track information and transactions. This data is then exchanged and verified on a peer-to-peer network. An advantage of blockchain is that due to the distributed ledger technologies it creates a trustworthy and transparent record by allowing the verification process to involve multiple parties, rather than relying on one centralised party.

Expansion

Blockchain is becoming more and more popular due to its reliability and high level of security. Applications are being developed in brand protection and enforcement using blockchain.

For example; blockchain can be used in a supply chain to track the progress of the goods. This is of course an attraction to the IP-intensive sectors such as pharmaceuticals, automotive and luxury goods.

Blockchain and IP

As blockchain creates a secure and reliable database it is attractive to the IP sector as it can support IP including creating “smart” IP rights, providing evidence of creatorship and enforcing IP rights.

“Smart” IP rights

“Smart” IP rights can be created by recording IP rights in a distributed ledger rather than a traditional database. This can expand into intellectual property offices in which they could record when a trademark application was submitted, when the trademark was registered, when it was first used in trade, and when and whether it was licenced and assigned. All the information would be stored in one distributed ledger.

Evidence of creatorship

It is not uncommon for a proof of ownership of IP issue to arise, as ownership can often be hard to prove. Authors have great difficulty to track who is using their work. From a different perspective it is often difficult to find the owner of the work in order to request a licence to use the work. This results in a high level of infringement and low value monetisation.

By using blockchain as an IP register it would allow authors to register their works and then have a secure and reliable source of evidence as proof of ownership. It would allow third parties to see the chain of ownership and whether there are any licences or assignments.

Enforcement of IP rights

By creating a database of ownership stating who owns what and who is entitled to use the IP, allows third parties including suppliers, consumers and authorities to distinguish whether a good is an original or a fake.  This would allow users to verify the source and authenticity of the goods. This results in confidence for the consumers and other third party’s relying on the goods.

The information contained in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. If you require further information our commercial team would be more than happy to assist you. Please contact us at [email protected] or call us on 029 2009 5500 to speak to one of our team.