Irony really is the best.
Let’s take Mr. Frederik Graff for example. He was an engineer of the Philadelphia Water Works and supposedly had the first patent on the fire hydrant back in 1836.
You see, there is no official record of his patent because the U.S Patent Office, at the time, was destroyed in a fire.
As was his patent for a fire hydrant.
Wheezing laughter aside, the real kicker of this story, is that intellectual property has been around for a long, long time.
We have a right to the things that originate in our minds. Intellectual property, or IP, consists of ideas and concepts that you think of, and may potentially develop. Things like articles, inventions, books, pictures, music, slogans etc.
IP holds value, and it belongs to you. To protect it, government systems have put in place four main types of security:
- Trademarks — for words, combinations of words, symbols etc.
- Copyrights — for creative works like articles or software
- Trade Secrets — for formulas, programs, processes etc.
- Patents — utility, design and plant (machine, graphics, plants)
Now that we know IP has value, it’s can be deemed an intangible asset. Protecting these assets, however, can become
a) time consuming, and
In fact, getting a patent in Canada takes on average 1,000 days, or about 34 months, from the examination request.
Clearly, the process is rather cumbersome. Even if you file for a patent, your claim is not examined unless the office is called. What’s weirder is that Canada and the US operate on a first-to-file patent system.
Previously, a first-to-invent system was used, seemingly more equitable. Now, the date on which an examiner receives a file is the determiner of the date of filing — not to be confused with the date on which one sends the file.
Okay Ruhani, but why does this matter?
The first-to-file system doesn’t look out for the underdogs. Innovators and inventors must race to establish patents against potential copycats — even if they invented it first, it’s the first file to get there that matters.
Poor awareness of the application process is another benefactor the laggy system. Often, admissions are incomplete, incorrect or are attempts to unknowingly patent a product that already exists.
According to a study conducted by Yale University, 86% of patent applications were rejected between 1963 and 2005.
IT protocols that are inadequately maintained lead to unnecessary legal disputes and wasted time.
Here’s a question — what is the one thing that innovation requires?
…okay, but what else?
What is the patent system wasting?
wow, you’re on fire 🔥
A blockchain-based platform designed to save time and energy by providing
- Immutable Proof of Use
- Preventing Unlawful Replication
- Optimizing Patent Licensing
The platform is designed to serve two separate demographics — pre-patent inventors and post-patent owners. While Inventionchain cannot substitute government-issued patents, it can strengthen evidence needed in processes.
The aim of this platform is diverse — Inventionchain uses a variety of blockchain’s most optimal features to service a wide customer base including both independent inventors and large corporations in a variety of product stages.
By incorporating a hashing system for data storage, RFID tracking technology for product distribution and smart contracts for licensing agreements, Inventionchain is a culmination of blockchain’s best.
Pre-Patent: General Immutable Proof of Use
Using a proof-of-work based blockchain system, Inventionchain serves as a platform with accurate and clear details about IP ownership.
In partnership with governmental patent processes, the tamper-resistant blockchain will timestamp registries to indicate the exact recording time of an idea/filing in an immutable fashion.
This will solve any issues regarding first-to-file systems. Inventionchain also gives intellectual property owners the advantage of protecting any IP asset infringers or patent trolls.
These are companies that profit from patent-infringement lawsuits. They purchase cheap patents from bankrupt owners but don’t produce anything. Instead, they find others who appear to be infringing upon their patent and exploit them for money.
By using a patent application form, similar to those under government jurisdiction, submissions are added to the peer-to-peer blockchain. Security is ensured because of the immutability that comes with proof-of-work consensus models.
The registrar’s data is stored by using a hashing system. By storing the hash of the data on the blockchain, users can tell if any data is modified because a change in block data results in a change in hash.
The data can be hashed at any time and be compared to the hash first assigned to the transaction on the blockchain. This provides tamper resistance and strengthens any evidence needed by government offices like USPTO.
The raw data is stored on a relational database later assigned the ID (hash) of its corresponding transaction. Doing this lowers the transaction cost because only a portion of the data, the hash, is actually stored on the blockchain.
Patent processes will require an onslaught of information — Inventionchain makes this system more secure by guaranteeing proof of use.
Post-Patent: Preventing Unlawful Replication
Inventionchain also caters to innovators who are post-patent by solving issues such as unlawful replication. Advances in supply chain management and decentralized technologies have opened up a plethora of opportunity.
By using RFID tracking and Inventionchain, corporations or owners can track the path of their product through the stream of commerce.
The path that products follow to get to a retailer, the distribution channel, becomes transparent.
Suddenly, owners can see if products are being diverted to unauthorized retailers or markets in violation of distribution agreements.
By tracking physical and temporal data of products, the route these products are taking can be examined to determine if third party products are in fact authentic competitors or just unlawful copies.
The system would prevent infringement of patents by supplying empirical evidence of the product’s journey.
Post-Patent: Simplifying Patent Licensing
Finally, Inventionchain massively simplifies the patent licencing process by connecting interested parties faster. Typical licensing initiatives have a low success rate — finding interested licensees is no easy task, let alone negotiating an agreement.
Using smart contracts, Inventionchain safeguards the novelty of inventions, a necessary component for qualifying for a patent, while still finding potential licensees or investors.
The ledger would include a brief description of the product, while those interested in licensing would agree to the provisions outlined in the smart contract. It could even be used for owners to find licensees with industry know-how and trade-secrets.
Moreover, lengthy processes of IP make it so that defining who owns what is difficult and obscure. Registering work and enacting ownership trade-offs on Inventionchain would create a systematic, organized and honest history of ownership, including things like sub-licenses and assignments.
Blockchain transactions are immutable, so once they are registered to the blockchain, the details of the transaction can no longer be changed. Using smart contracts reduces transaction costs and creates a direct market for inventors and users.
Should the pre-programmed contractual terms be met, the contract will self execute and complete the transaction. This diminishes administrative costs, burdens and stress.
I’m looking forward to continuing to build this out and develop Inventionchain. Intellectual property is such an underrated sector — communication is everything because people are everything.
If we aren’t finding ways to optimize the most curious and driven of those people- the innovators and inventors-we halt our progress.
Here’s to emerging tech 🥂
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to give it a few 👏s and follow me on Medium!
- Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn
- Check out my personal website
Inventionchain was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.