Intellectual Property On The Blockchain – the Race is On

Intellectual Property On The Blockchain – the Race is On

When it comes to intellectual property, the blockchain is one of those rare birds in the ICO space: an industry which makes for a perfect blockchain fit.

Records on a blockchain are immutable – they cannot be altered, nor can their timestamps either. And, provided a blockchain has enough nodes, its entries cannot be co-opted by any one single entity.

The blockchain, then, appears to be on the verge of bringing some revolutionary changes to how we manage intellectual property, and the $5 trillion dollar industry is likely to qualify as among one of the first to be disrupted in the era of what is termed the Blockchain Revolution. 

Protecting intellectual property has for years been expensive and time-consuming, and ultimately, in many cases, inventors and creators are unable to protect their IP anyway in an efficient manner. The blockchain projects that can provide a streamlined, reliable and improved IP management service are set to accrue significant value.

Race to Dominate

It is no surprise, then, that we are seeing a large number of players competing in the IP space. Many of these are seeking to offer very broad solutions, others are setting out to specialise in a niche. It’s worth knowing who the players are to get a sense of the competition in the field.

Firstly, let’s look at the projects with a broader scope. This is by no means a complete list, but these are the prominent platforms.

The InnVenn platform being built by Loci simplifies the patent search process and allows inventors to prove ownership of their ideas. Loci held its token sale in December 2017.

IPChain, which we recently reviewed, is building a network to help scientists, inventors, artists and companies protect their intellectual property by providing proof of authorship. This project is not limited to patents, but will also provide proof of authorship of books, music, photos and designs.

IPwe is building another patent ecosystem. It will allow patent searches and also allow patent owners to unlock the value of their patents. At the moment the project is being funded privately.

It’s also worth briefly mentioning projects have a narrow scope and focus on specific industries. Po.et, for example, is a project aiming to protect digital publishing content.

Kodak’s much-hyped Kodakone and IPStock are both building platforms to allow photographers the ability to protect and licence images. IPStock’s platform will also cater for illustrations and videos.

The most competitive industry for IP related projects is the music industry. Choon, SingularX, Tao Network, Veszt and Moosecoin are all hoping to disrupt the music business by creating a more direct relationship between music creators and consumers.

Partnerships are Key

When it comes to B2B IP – including inventions, trademarks, and trade secrets – the ability of the platform to protect those ideas is paramount. But, they will also need to get creators and inventors on board to begin to benefit from the Network effect.

There are, arguably, three leading contenders here – Loci, IPChain and IPwe. IPwe is being privately funded so it is difficult to judge what resources it has at its disposal. Loci raised $7.6 million in its token sale, while IPChain is currently looking to raise $20 million.

Really, however, it is going to come down to partnerships – the ability to form contractual arrangements with established players who already have a presence in the industry.

This is where IPChain arguably stands out from the others – with a pre-existing partnership in place with WIPO Green, the environmental arm of the world’s largest hub of patents, copyrights and trademarks. At the same time, it enjoys a formal partnership with the Dennemeyer group, one of the world’s leading intellectual property legal outfits. 

Naturally, however, only time itself can tell as to who will emerge as the leading player in an industry that is set for an upcoming migration to the blockchain.