When it comes to blockchain patents, IBM is still a force to reckon with. The tech giant currently boasts of more than 100 active blockchain patents, with a third of those coming in the last two years alone.
IBM’s number of blockchain patents dwarfs all other large tech corporations. As of July 2019, IBM had 108 blockchain-related patents. By comparison, Intel had 35 patents while Dell Technologies and Microsoft had 16 patents each. But that hasn’t stopped IBM from filing yet another blockchain patent.
IBM blockchain-based browser
Last week, IBM published a patent for blockchain-based web browser supported by a peer-to-peer network. The patent, which was filed on August 6th, describes a browser that could possibly capture information to store directly on the blockchain.
IBM patent application states that the system “records and maintains a record of browser events in a blockchain using a peer-to-peer network”. Some of these events include visited websites, cookies, bookmarks, geo-locations, search terms and security patch records. The aim is to give users more control of their data by shifting the ownership and control from centralized entities like Google to individuals.
Browsing users will also be able to set two different settings: personal use and business use. Each browsing mode collects a different set of information. Meanwhile, that data will be gathered only with the correct login details. IBM says this help to strengthen browser security, protecting users against potential data breaches.
The patent document explains further that the blockchain browser application will include a token. This token should verify the browsing activities of the user, such as generated queries, risks and service executions. However, it is not clear whether users will get monetary benefits in exchange for sharing their personal data with IBM.
Trends in blockchain patents
IBM currently leads in terms of blockchain patents issued in the U.S. But the tech giant does have international competition. According to a recent report by Security Daily, IBM faces fierce competition from China than anywhere else in the world. For example, Alibaba, the leading Chinese company in blockchain patents, has applied for 262 patents as of May 2019. The report also highlights that 4,445 blockchain patents were filed by Chinese organizations between 2013 and 2018. By contrast, U.S companies filed 1883 patents within the same period.
Majority of these patents fall under four key categories: core technologies, applications, core/applications, and generic blockchain inventions. Another study presented by Cintelliq suggests that generic blockchain patents and application patents account for more than 50% of all patents filed between 2008 and 2018. These types of patents are reportedly filed in China. The U.S is witnessing more core technology patents and core/application patents filed instead.
Are blockchain patents good for the industry?
Critics have warned that patenting of blockchain innovations by deep-pocketed corporations could hurt the growth of the industry. Furthermore, the general feeling is that we need to approach this new technology with a collaborative spirit of innovation. Besides, filing patents only helps to monopolize the technology. And it will not be long before patent trolls will show up.
Nevertheless, patented innovations will help drive blockchain towards widespread adoption. As global organizations like IBM and Bank of America continue to look for new ways in which to implement the technology, such efforts will open more opportunities for blockchain. As a result, we will see more real world applications in real markets.