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Blockchain: Beyond The Cryptocurrencies

June 6, 2022

By Robert Cantrell - Registered Patent Agent


Early in 2016, I joined six of my colleagues at Walmart’s San Bruno office to discuss building a patent position in blockchain. Up until that meeting, I knew little about the technology. Within a couple of days, however, I was drafting language and figures that would go into dozens of Walmart filings. Since then, I have had at least one blockchain case on my docket pretty much all the time.


Blockchain, of course, is the backbone of cryptocurrencies. But blockchain also allows people to physicalize many other virtual assets by way of software code on a distributed leger. From artwork, to contracts, to energy credits, you can create an original virtual asset—an original assembly of data—and confirm its originality with the associated blockchain code. You can also track physical and virtual assets back to their source by following blockchain transactions. Transactions may be sales and can also be non-monetary actions such as transferring goods between supply chain carriers. A transaction triggers adding new blockchain code to existing blocks.


How the USPTO handles blockchain patent applications is a work in progress. But the ability of the software code to physicalize a virtual asset helps to remove abstractions that could otherwise trigger Alice rejections (i.e., Section 101, unpatentable subject matter) . Blockchain solutions can often be described within systems as well as method claims.


Open territory remains in the blockchain space to be defined and claimed. Any time you need to confirm and transfer a unique assembly of data, you may have an opportunity to utilize blockchain.

 

If you would like to know more or add blockchain assets to your IP portfolio, please contact us on our CONTACT page.

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