Public Blockchain Patents: Spurring Innovation and Ensuring Access
Traditionally, companies file patents to protect their intellectual property (IP). The idea is that a company can use the patent to protect its IP from copycat projects, generate revenues from licensing its IP and increase the value of the company by having legal ownership over its IP. Once a patent is granted, it becomes an asset to whomever holds the patent whether it’s a person or company.
On the surface, it may seem counterintuitive for The Fusion Foundation to file for patents since a non-permissioned blockchain built on open-source code is designed to be turned over to the public for anyone to use. The purpose of patents in this case is to ensure FUSION’s technology can be used openly and continuously by the public. Since Fusion has the rights to the intellectual property, the Fusion Foundation can grant usage access as it sees fit and in Fusion’s case, it’s open access to anyone wanting to use the platform.
One example of an open-source, publicly accessible software platform with patent protection is Linux. Linux’s intellectual property is protected by an open-source patent alliance called the Open Invention Network (OIN). OIN safeguards developers and users from organisations that would seek to leverage intellectual property to limit innovation. Because of the patent protection, Linux has control over how the technology is used and shared. Linux has decided to make its open source system available to the public via a royalty free-licensing model. Consider the opposite scenario. If Linux did not own patents on its IP, a private company could file a patent for Linux based technology, and own it giving the company control over the tech’s usage. Legally the company could charge for usage or put restrictions on the technology that would limit growth and innovation. Without patents, open-source projects like Linux or Fusion run the risk of being destroyed.
Over the past few months Fusion has been working through the international patent filing process. In-House Fusion Research Fellow Zhaojun He is leading the project. The FUSION Telegram community asked a number of questions regarding Fusion’s patent filing process and status. Zhaojun He provided answers and additional commentary.
Community Question One: What is the current status of the FUSION patent applications?
FUSION applied for three patents with the The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PTP) that have all been successfully filed for consideration. The PCT is an international treaty with more than 150 Contracting States. The PCT makes it possible to seek patent protection for an invention simultaneously in a large number of countries by filing a single “International” patent application instead of filing several separate national or regional patent applications.
Patents take 18 months to become publicly available. You can view the timeline for the application process in the following link — http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/pct/en/seminar/basic_1/timeline.pdf
Community Question Two: In which country were the patent applications filed?
FUSION applied for three PCT International patents in China. In the next phase of the PCT process, the patents will be applied in countries such as the United States, the European Union, and Japan.
Community Question Three: What patents were filed by FUSION?
(1) The Multiple Triggering Mechanism (MTM) smart contracts.
International priority date: July 19, 2018,
International application number: PCT/CN2018/096213
(2) Distributed Control Rights Management (DCRM) and Lock-in Lock-out.
International priority date: July 19, 2018.
International application number: PCT/CN2018/096215
International priority date: June 4, 2018.
International application number: PCT/CN2018/089805
Community Question Four: Who is the official patent holder?
The FUSION Foundation holds the legal rights to all the above patents.
Fusion will continue to deliver updates on The Fusion Foundation’s patent filing status. It will be a significant milestone for the organization and the public once the patents are granted!