Monique Morrow

Chief Technology Strategist

Did Intellectual Property Meet Its Match With Blockchain?

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September 2018

In this increasingly digital world, one of the most up-and-coming applications is Blockchain, “an open ledger of information that can be used to record and track transactions, and which is exchanged and verified on a peer-to-peer network.”  While Blockchain is currently most associated with the financial world, it is finding a home in an expanding number of verticals. One of these niches is intellectual property (IP), where blockchain can be used to prove the creation of content such as books, films, and art.

 

Intellectual Property rights derive from the Constitution in Article 1, Section 1, Clause 8, which gives Congress the power to, “promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”  More specifically, IP is “creations of mind: inventions, literary, and artistic works, and symbols, names and images used in commerce.”

 

Blockchain can help with IP in registry or court. Some potential uses include: “evidence of creatorship and provenance authentication, registering and clearing IP rights; controlling and tracking the distribution of unregistered IP; providing evidence of genuine and/or first use in trade and/or commerce; digital rights management (e.g., online music sites); establishing and enforcing IP agreements; licenses or exclusive distribution networks through smart contracts; and transmitting payments in real time to IP owners.” Being able to essentially “track the entire lifecycle of a right” would undeniably help when identifying rights. Blockchain having a home with IP would prevent unnecessary lawsuits or disagreements about the rightful owner of a work. Many companies seem to agree with this and have invented technologies that work in tandem with blockchain to help sift through this usual gray area. Bernstein Technologies GmbH, for example, “allows companies to manage the whole innovation lifecycle by creating a trail of records on the bitcoin blockchain;” while Copyrobo “is a technology company that helps secure your copyright anywhere in the world in less than 60 seconds.” As more and more of these companies come to fruition, creators and inventors will be able to circumnavigate the usually long and tedious process of applying for patents and proving that they are in fact the genuine creator.

 

Blockchain is also applicable to the rights for movies and film. Some companies use blockchain as a means of viewing, while others take advantage of cryptocurrencies as a method of authentic payment. SingularDTV is a company that takes advantage of blockchain in terms of viewing as it uses “decentralized apps to help filmmakers raise production money and then develop and distribute content.” Meanwhile companies like XYZ Films, which is in the process of producing a sci-fi anthology financed through a tokenized economy, and Thailand’s largest theater, Major Cineplex, which “will begin accepting cryptocurrency for movie ticket concessions and payments,” are examples of companies applying blockchain as a means of authentic payments for movies. Whichever way blockchain is applied it definitely has a home in the film industry.

 

The uses of blockchain are expanding and are becoming increasingly important for every industry. Blockchain will become critical for IP rights and determining the genuine owners of different ideas. As blockchain continues to infiltrate the world of IP only two questions remain: how often will it be used and how many companies will jump on board?