Blockchain, the new guardian for intellectual property rights?
With the rise of the digital information age and our knowledge based economy, there has been growing awareness that the value of companies is no longer in the value of the tangible assets such as equipment and buildings, but is essentially determined by the intangible assets, including the intellectual property rights. Because intellectual property rights, other than fixed assets, are more prone to leakage and imitation, companies are more challenged than ever before to carefully record and protect their IP-portfolio. Blockchain technology can help you with this! How? Holla is happy to explain it to you.
What is Blockchain and how does it work?
A Blockchain is essentially nothing more than a distributed online database (also called public ledger), consisting of linear blocks that contain all transactions or digital events that have been executed and shared among the parties participating in the chain (the “nodes”). Each transaction in the shared database is confirmed by consensus of the majority of the participants. Once the information is entered into the Blockchain it cannot be altered or erased. This allows the participating parties to know for certain that an event happened. Blockchain’s central attributes are that it provides security, anonymity and data integrity without any third party organization in control of the transactions.
The Blochchain as a way of Proof of Existence
Trademark rights and patent rights arise through registration of the rights in public databases. For that reason, it is clear to everyone which party is entitled to which rights and when these rights have arisen. In the case of copyrights, however, this is different: copyright originates by operation of law and is therefore usually not recorded in a public register. The same applies to trade secrets. As a result a discussion may arise about the extent of the right, who the entitled party is and about the moment at which the right arose. A registration of your right in a blockchain database, which shows that the idea originates from you and when you have come up with this, strengthens your position of proof considerably.
With a blockchain system, various data with regard to copyrights can be recorded. The owner can upload his works to the blockchain at various stages of development. In this way the moment of registration can be demonstrated. Other data can also be included in the blockchain, such as copyright transfer or licensing. The same applies, of course, to trade secrets of which you do not (yet) want your competitors to take note.
The Blockchain as a universal database, also for brands and patents
A register of intellectual property rights in the form of a blockchain system provides an important advantage over the existing databases, namely uniformity. We know different IP registers, whose territorial effect also differs. For example, one can register a trademark in the Benelux, EU or even outside the EU. The various registers are not always attuned to each other, so that literally, according to the Dutch saying, “all registers have to be pulled open” before it becomes clear who the rightful claimant is. One universal ledger can ensure that the rights become more transparent. In addition, the blockchain is not dependent on a so-called trusted third party, such as the BOIP or the EUIPO. A blockchain database can therefore contribute to the reliability of the registration system.
Blockchain technology as a weapon against counterfeit
Blockchain technology can also be used to prevent infringement of intellectual property rights. The organization ‘StopTheFakes’ (https://stopthefakes.io/) is an example of this. This organization makes it possible by means of blockchain technology to trace and tackle infringement of intellectual property. Another example of an organization that exploits the possibilities of blockchain is the UK based company ‘De Beers’, the world’s largest diamond company. De Beers has 1.6 million diamonds registered in a blockchain and also the origin and characteristics such as color and the number of carats etc. are recorded. The goal is to include all diamonds in the blockchain database and thus prevent the sale of counterfeits and blood diamonds. Blockchain can also provide a solution for combating fake goods in the retail sector. By placing microchips provided with blockchain technology, a customer can verify via a smartphone app whether a piece of clothing is real or fake. Especially for luxury brands, blockchain technology is interesting to put an end to illegal trade.
The registration and protection of intellectual property rights through the use of blockchain technology is still in the starting phase. But the results so far show a lot of promise. Would you like to know more about the application of blockchain technology for the protection of your intellectual property assets? Then contact our New Tech Team.