Can Blockchain Protect Your Intellectual Property?
By William Ross, Last updated: 2021-06-02 (originally published on 2019-08-26)
Creating something new is almost always a labour of love and the result of hours of hard work. It can be immensely frustrating if another product, just like yours, beats you to market. Is it a coincidence? Perhaps not. The stealing of property is not confined to the robbing of physical equipment and the like, your intellectual property can just as easily be stolen from you.
If you’ve created something new, you might be considering a patent registration. However, this doesn’t protect you completely. If your IP gets stolen, finding legal proof could prove difficult. And that’s where blockchain enters the scene.
What Are Intellectual Property Rights?
Intellectual Property refers to ideas, literary and artistic works, and more. IP has different categories like industrial, copyright, patent, and trademark. Industrial refers to inventions and industrial design, while copyright aims to protect literary and artistic creations such as paintings, drawings, writing, and music. A patent is the exclusive rights to an invention, while trademark is a sign that identifies a specific brand, business, or individual.
Intellectual property rights grant the exclusive rights, but only for a specific amount of time, which is generally 20 years. These rights include copyrights, patents, and trademarks.
Why Is IP important?
There are several reasons why IP rights are vital. The progress of future technology depends on how innovative we are. People who are capable of producing ideas that will benefit society as a whole deserve their intellectual properties to be protected and they need to be incentivised to continue creating. Without it, businesses and individuals would not acquire the full rewards from the labour of their crafts, and there is a chance they may stop inventing. As such, not being able to protect intellectual property could be a hindrance to society’s overall progress, not to mention the individual benefits.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a system that keeps transaction records maintained across several places that are connected in a P2P (peer-to-peer) network working simultaneously to solve composite mathematical problems in order to validate new blocks. The blocks are the digital information kept using cryptography, and the chains refer to the public database. Blocks store the data of when transactions are made ad the people who made the transaction.
The blockchain technology is simply the growing list of transactions stored in blocks. Each block is equipped with a cryptographic hash function of the preceding blocks, the time of when the transaction was made, and the transaction data itself. Once the data has been recorded and stored, it won’t be changed.
Timestamps avoid the tampering of information. Once a transaction has been recorded, the data in any particular block cannot be backdated without changing all the succeeding blocks. This is why blockchain technology is secure and not prone to hacking.
Often referred to as a world-changing technology, just like any other, it has flaws. One of blockchain’s major issues is privacy. Despite its positive impact, like keeping track of the transaction details and records, the public is having second-thoughts on welcoming blockchain in the world of technology and digital transformation.
There are some circumstances where segments of data transparency in blockchain can have an anomaly, especially if the information involves sensitive medical, financial, personal, or governmental data. That is why privacy issues are becoming a hindrance towards the public acceptance and the mass approval of blockchain. Another one is its complexity. It’s not easy to understand how it works, and this makes it harder for people to appreciate whatever benefits it may have.
Blockchain to protect IP
Blockchain acts like a ledger, which can easily act as validation to determine who owns what. Blockchain records details about when a transaction occurred, where and when a product was made, and who owns it.
Using blockchain for these types of solutions are quickly becoming the norm and enable users to verify the authenticity of a product and provide reassurance for authorities, consumers and insurers.