One of the most stressful parts of creating any intellectual property (IP) is knowing that the creation will be protected from theft or directly copied by someone else, which could result in millions of dollars in lost earnings. There are constant court battles that seek to determine who actually owns a particular IP and, in some cases, it is difficult to ascertain who the original author truly is. In a Medium post from yesterday, Dr. Craig Wright of nChain delves into the world of IP and how the blockchain can be an invaluable global asset to protecting legal ownership rights.
Wright explains, “Traditionally, IP rights are managed by the notaries via cumbersome and expensive procedures. And the time between the creation of an original idea to the time a patent gets filed can be quite long, resulting in lack of IP protection. For companies that produce inventions or other content worth protecting, it bears high risks and high operational cost.”
However, this expense can be greatly mitigated by the use of the blockchain. When incorporated as an IP registry, the technology can be used for the storage of encrypted documents that represent the authors’ digital certificate of authenticity. The immutable properties of blockchain technology prevent the records from being tampered with, providing a permanent and unchangeable proof of ownership. It would be completely transparent, decentralized and can never be lost or changed.
As an additional benefit, the blockchain would offer the ability to create better links between authors and users. Wright explains, “Smart contracts, atomic swaps, and other techniques can assist in the sale and licensing of intellectual property and automate the workload of the collecting societies… The terms of the contract are pre-programmed, so that the parties can do business without the administrative burden and cost. For example, in IP, such methods could mean that licences are self-executing upon use of a work.”
Smart contracts can easily be tied to micropayments in order to facilitate use of content. Micropayments have already proven to be a highly stable and successful payment vehicle and IP authors can assign a crypto address to the content, which would be paid by a user before access is granted. This allows for instantaneous payments and the removal of expensive payment systems, such as credit card and bank transfers, in place today.
Wright also points out, “As blockchain technology goes mainstream in various industries such as finance, supply chain management, and manufacturing, acceptance of blockchain by governments is a mere question of time; several notarisation firms, such as P&TS (Switzerland), already offer notarisation services for invention announcements based on blockchain technology, in order to establish irrefutably the possession of an invention or a work.”
The blockchain has already proven itself to be a valuable tool for a number of industries when implemented correctly. It is more efficient and less costly than all other record-keeping platforms and can provide substantial savings for supply chains, insurance companies, banks, hospitals and many more. As its positive attributes continue to be recognized, blockchain technology will continue to be adopted by more industries and will soon become the norm.