Blockchain Technology and related Patent Protections

Blockchain technology appears to be picking up steam in a multitude of industries. Recently, it was announced that IBM has launched a new blockchain platform in conjunction with nine financial institutions. That is, beyond the cryptocurrency use cases, blockchain technology may be used by financial services industry to create blockhain applications, including know-your-customer processes, derivatives post-trade processing, and reconciliation and market data.

According to Wikipedia, a blockchain is “a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data.” As mentioned previously, blockchain may be “for use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.”

A number of corporations are in the process of obtaining or have obtained blockchain patents. Take for example, U.S. Patent 8,266,438, assigned to Security First Corporation, entitled: “Secure data parser method and system.” Claim 1 defines the invention as:

A method for securing streaming of a data set from a first location to a second location, the method comprising:
generating, using processing circuitry at the first location, at least two portions of data from the data set, wherein each of the at least two portions of data respectively contains a substantially random distribution of a respective subset of the data set;
streaming from the first location to the second location the at least two portions of data over at least one communications path, wherein the at least two portions of data stream separately from each other as at least two streaming portions of data; and
restoring, using processing circuitry at the second location, data from at least a subset of the at least two streaming portions of data, wherein the data is restored as the at least two streaming portions of data are being received at the second location.

The idea of decentralization via blockchain technology, appears to be very broadly covered by this claim. That is, this claim appears to claim the very definition of a global network of computers used to jointly manage a database that records certain transactions.

Some pundits may consider the above claim to be an abstract idea, and hence not entitled to patent protection. However, as with all emerging technologies, it is important to consider the assertion that the establishment of a secure network may be a technical solution to a technological problem. That is, it may be that the execution of a blockchain application may result in an artificially created state of affairs to either create, control, or make more efficient a decentralization concept.

With a whole host of innovators and entrepreneurs coming up with a number of different applications of this technology, the ability to protect different uses of the same underlying technology becomes imperative.

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