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The Rise of Blockchain in Patent and Trademark USPTO Filings

Blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology (DLT), is a digital ledger in which transactions, often made in a cryptocurrency, are recorded chronologically and publicly.  (You can refer to our prior post on blockchain and cryptocurrencies here.)

Although the applications of blockchain technology is most commonly associated with cryptocurrencies, there is a surge of other use cases in the fields of finance, healthcare, arts/entertainment, government, and logistics.  Naturally, since DLT is a technology, there has been an unsurprising sprint to obtain patent and trademark registrations in connection with the underlying technology and brands.  This trend is proven by the rise of patent and trademark applications in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Overall, patent and trademarking filings have surged since 2016, and based on our review of the data, these filings do not appear to atrophy any time soon.

“Blockchain” Trademark Applications and Registrations

A search in the USPTO’s trademark filings reveal 1120 records of trademark applications or registrations for goods and services related to blockchain and/or DLT.

Trademark filings in the USPTO show the following trend to date:

*2018 totals are provided as of April 13, 2018

As for the trademark applications, filings show a steady rise since 2014.  Applications in 2017 increased by nearly 500% from the prior year.  2018 shows to be no exception as there is already almost double the number of applications to date.

“Blockchain” Patent Applications and Registrations

On the patent side of blockchain intellectual property, a current search of the internet-accessible database of the USPTO reveals that there are well over 700 published U.S. patent applications and over 70 issued U.S. patents directed specifically to “blockchain” technologies.

Publically available patent filings for “blockchain” technology in the USPTO show the following trend to date:

*2018 totals are provided as of April 13, 2018

(Note that publicly available filing do not include those filed within the past 18 months.  Additionally, similar and related technologies, such as, for example, distributed or decentralized ledger technologies were not included in the above-mentioned search and are entirely excluded from these totals.)

The number of issued U.S. patents directed to “blockchain” technologies has steadily increased over the years to a current total of almost 70 issued patents. The first significant increase in “blockchain” patents issued by the USPTO began during the second quarter of 2015 and the majority of the “blockchain” patents were issued last year, 2017.  Further, new patent application filings directed specifically to “blockchain” technology and their subsequent publications have grown exponentially since the first “blockchain” applications were filed back in 2005.  Additionally, the number of published U.S. “blockchain” applications during the last six months (i.e., Sept. 2017 to March 2018) and the six months prior to that (i.e., March 2017 to Sept. 2017) grew to well over 200 publications for each of these six-month increments.

If you have any questions about filing patent or trademark applications in the USPTO for your blockchain related technology or trademarks, please contact Brian Anscomb at bcanscomb@nmmlaw.com or Stephanie Spangler at ssspangler@nmmlaw.com.