Blockchain Patent Applications Reached New Highs in 2017

 blockchain patent applications

With the dramatic rise in cryptocurrency market caps, prices and startup activity in 2017, few could deny the last 12 months were a landmark year for blockchain.

Today, new statistics confirm the picture, with a record number of blockchain patent applications filed worldwide in 2017.

According to data from the South Korean Intellectual Property Office, the number of applications filed across the top five leading IP offices, in the U.S., China, Japan, the EU and South Korea, totalled 1,248, reflecting a dramatic rise in the number of those seeking protection for blockchain innovations.

While the total number may be comparatively small, compared to the IP activity in some other sectors, for example, the rate of growth year on year is of particular significance, and some indication of the strength of growth experienced over the period.

The 2017 figure also dwarfs the total number of applications filed in the period from 2013 to 2016. Since 2013, the number applications filed across the respective five markets has risen from 27 to 98, 258 and 594, before the breakthrough in 2017.

The majority of IP activity in 2017 was focused around the U.S. and China, which accounted for more than 78 percent of the total number of applications. This reflects the growth in funding and startup activity around blockchain developments in each respective country, during what was undoubtedly a significant year for blockchain businesses.

While the report provided no specific breakdown of data by country, it highlighted that the U.S. was currently out in front, in terms of the raw number of applications filed. However, the report anticipated China, currently in second place, would overtake the U.S. in the near future, filing a greater number of blockchain patents in the years to come.

“It is expected that China will take the first place in cumulative number of cases soon.”

The figures show the banking sector as one of the main instigators of IP applications for the technology, with Bank of America in particular responsible for a majority chunk of the 16.3 percent of applications relating to financial services.

Bank of America is known to have filed at least 30 individual patents for blockchain technologies, with as many as nine filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in one month, in February last year.

The news reflects the ongoing development of blockchain technology, as new commercial applications and use cases continue to be identified.