Published 04/05/2021 by CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)
The Bitcoin blockchain revolutionizes how we think about currency. Its underlying technology both assigns title rights and verifies transactions. More importantly, individuals and companies can use open-source bitcoin code to create their own inventions. For this reason, intellectual property rights are important, especially as blockchain protocols become more popular with corporations. Here are some relevant US patents from major companies that you should know about.
Innovation is important to Bank of America. One way to tell is by looking at any of its 3,900 patents. As of 2019, Bank of America was awarded 32 blockchain patents relating, with nearly the same amount pending. Contrast that with J.P. Morgan’s six blockchain patents as of 2019 and you can see just how far ahead BOA is. Their goal—to future-proof traditional banking systems if blockchain connectivity becomes popular. Although they have not yet made sweeping changes using their blockchain patents, it does make you wonder when they will act on their extensive list of blockchain intellectual properties.
Two of the most interesting patents improve ATM machines and enhance digital wallet security. The first filing announced in 2018 uses blockchain technology to facilitate ATM transactions. Instead of using an ATM connected to your respective bank, a blockchain ATM allows for "multi-tenant" use. A blockchain ATM connects several banks in one software system. The blockchain ATM also provides branding and marketing opportunities for partner banks that share the ATM network. Overall, it is a fascinating patent that would connect competing banks together and improve the process of making cash ATM deposits.
The second patent improves security of digital wallets. Bank of America’s application for “Multi-Tiered Digital Wallet Security” lets wallet users hold cryptocurrencies in storage compartments. Each compartment, which Bank of America calls a tier, holds cryptocurrency, and has its own unique password. It is a way of protecting digital assets if someone accesses your private keys or you lose them. It also provides a reason to transfer digital assets away from third parties to protect your assets from hackers while gaining full control of your currencies.
Banks are not the only corporations that are serious about patenting their blockchain intellectual properties. In fact, Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba has even more US patents filed than Bank of America. With over 190 US patents as of 2019, and 2,300 around the world, it is easy to see that some foreign companies take cryptocurrency very seriously.
With that in mind, how is Alibaba utilizing blockchain patents to improve their business? Alibaba’s patents are widespread and look to tackle common problems with supply chain management. For example, they have patents that make it more difficult to sell counterfeit goods, record shipping information, and improve the healthcare system.
The fascinating thing is that Alibaba, like Bank of America, downplays the role of cryptocurrencies on their industry. Although these are the companies with the most blockchain patents, there seems to be hesitancy to role out their technologies quickly. Yet, with many corporations entering the cryptocurrency investing space, we’ll likely see mass adoption soon. If patents are any sign of things to come, companies will have no option but to use the blockchain to improve their services both internally for employees and externally for customers.
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