Today, April 26th, is World IP Day. But how could blockchain protect intellectual property?
World IP Day focuses on the importance of intellectual property, and how they are important in ensuring creativity and innovation. However, there’s one thing that could secure IP that we often forget about: blockchain. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) have themselves lauded the potential of blockchain for IP.
So, why aren’t we monopolising on it?
An array of possibilities
Blockchain is known for its potential in the cryptocurrency sector. It’s being used in supply chains, in marketing, information storage, marketplaces, and much more.
But what if we recorded IP rights on the blockchain?
It’s permanent, it’s decentralised, and it’s immutable. Blockchain technology isn’t flawless; however, it does pose an appealing alternative to traditional methods.
The current IP process involves intermediaries that authenticate patents or trademarks. This happens on a case-by-case basis and involves a long, costly and complicated process.
The solution? Make IP rights digital by putting them on the blockchain.
WIPO call these ‘smart IP rights.’ This means that the ledger shows who owns what and whatever exchanges can or may take place. When there’s an IP issue, the blockchain can be referenced as a reliable source of truth. There’s no need for intermediaries or long, costly processes.
Blockchain brings control of IP rights into the owner’s hands.
Smart IP rights can also ensure that IP can be traced back to the original owner, in situations where this might otherwise be impossible.
This year’s World IP Day focuses on sport: the potential of sponsorship, in particular. In sports, often athletes seek relationships with brands to continue their sporting careers. This gives them the economic support to pursue their career.
Blockchain would rise to this opportunity too, allowing athletes to ensure that their IP rights are safe and secure. The creative sector needs a method of accountability and traceability for production. Blockchain could be an ideal method of content protection.
Blockchain would make IP protection more accessible for everybody. While the traditional process might discourage many people, blockchain technology provides a digital, decentralised method of recording IP.
This is one of blockchain’s main benefits: accessibility. It also transfers into things such as banking and human identification.
Could putting intellectual property on the blockchain actually work?
While blockchain could potentially form the foundations of our future, it isn’t quite as easy as putting IP rights on there right now. Instead, it would require an international platform that would become the standard. No technology – not even blockchain – can defy the complications that come with agreeing on a mandatory technology.
However, with time, and maturity, blockchain could easily change the way IP rights are recorded. For the better.
To find out more about blockchain’s potential, click here.