Blockchain and Intellectual Property

Welcome to week three of our blockchain and industry series, where we’re looking at the disruptive power of distributed ledgers.

Last week we examined global shipping, and found out that the efficiency benefits of a blockchain infrastructure system is expected to save the industry upwards of $5 billion in just the first year. Check it out here if you missed it!

This week we’re investigating the impact blockchain is having on an industry that affects our daily lives, intellectual property. Before we begin — what exactly does this phrase mean?

Intellectual property is an umbrella term that includes everything from digital media like music, to the data we generate daily for service providers, whether it be our favourite flavour of ice cream or route to work.

In recent years companies and investors have begun to realise just how valuable all this data is, and Facebook, Google’s parent company Alphabet, and others are now among the most valuable organisations in the world. With such a huge influx of money into intellectual property, commentators have dubbed data the new oil.

This new industry hasn’t been without its share of problems. To take just one example, music piracy costs creators and property rights holders $12 billion annually, according to a recent study.

But where does blockchain fit in to all this?

The chief problem for intellectual property owners has been proving their ownership. When digital media can be copied so easily, it’s proven impossible to keep control, and it’s led companies like Apple to move their business model to streaming services, centralising the industry.

Blockchain promises a better solution, across the whole spectrum of intellectual property. Because the technology is constructed as a shared, public ledger, it becomes possible to sign and timestamp a digital asset to an individual owner. Due to blockchain’s permanence — you can’t edit a block once it has been broadcast and written into the public ledger, it provides an easy way to settle property disputes, a permanent and unchangeable database.

Although all the technicalities of this system are still being worked out, including how to enforce breaches once they’re confirmed to have happened, blockchain poses itself as a clear answer to the many issues facing intellectual property to day. How much it will save this ever-growing industry is not yet known, but conservative estimates are already valuing blockchain in the billions.

Join us next week for another close up look at the disruptive power of blockchain, and don’t forget to join our Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Telegram communities!