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Research on blockchain-related patents of universities and research institutions

A report published by Clifford Chance, MINDSMITH and Bitfury Group

28 May 2019

Clifford Chance, MINDSMITH and Bitfury Group have published research results related to blockchain-patents and pending applications by universities and research institutions around the world.

“We are witnessing a growing business interest in blockchain technology. According to some estimates, 4 out of 10 companies see this technology as one of the five key strategic priorities. The development of the digital economy and its components is crucial for national interests” commented Ruslan Yusufov, Managing partner of MINDSMITH.

"As is the case with any innovative development, the question of choosing the right method of legal protection for a new blockchain technology application is vital for both investors and inventors, as, in the absence of such protection, the economic value of an innovation and investment can significantly decrease. Therefore, the question of whether to patent an innovation, and if so, how, needs to be raised with lawyers at the earliest stage of the project." - stated Alexander Anichkin, partner at Clifford Chance.

Interest in blockchain is growing every year, and the number of studies and new projects in this area is increasing proportionally. The academic and scientific sphere was identified as the first research field because it is the root of innovation.

The study observes the trends of blockchain technology development from an academic perspective and determines the nature of these inventions. It indicates the involvement of universities in scientific research as well as the geographical distribution of inventors.

The research subject is universities and research institutes around the world, including institutions of 10 countries: Australia, China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan and the US.

The study revealed 92 inventions. It is noteworthy that Chinese universities are more active in exploring of blockchain technology. They account for 78% of all blockchain-patents and pending applications. The other countries in the top three countries the United States (12 inventions) and South Korea (7 inventions). 70% of all pending applications were filed in 2018. 80% of patent applications were filed only with national patent offices, and the remaining 20% ​​were also filed in foreign jurisdictions.

The expert council behind the research includes Clifford Chance, MINDSMITH and Bitfury Group. The key experts are the Russian Internet Ombudsman, representatives from QIWI Blockchain Technologies, Skolkovo Foundation, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO and Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.

In this report the experts also highlight the legal issues related to the protection of intellectual property in various jurisdictions, and the potential for motivating and commercialising work by universities and research institutes.

This is the first of a series of studies on blockchain-patents; there are further plans to analyze blockchain-patents filed by banks and financial institutions The results are freely available on the company's website https://mindsmith.io/blockchain-patents-ru