Alibaba is filing 10 times more blockchain patents than IBM this year

For skeptics, the belief in a widespread expansion of Blockhain technology in 2020 may be mere wishful thinking. A study on blockchain patents underpins the narrative about the triumphant advance of distributed ledger meanwhile with sound evidence: One can confidently state that blockchain can be found everywhere and is „quickly gaining momentum.“

Applications for blockchain patents set new volume records in 2020. This is what a study by the consulting firm Kisspatents wants.

At the forefront of development are the large IT corporations IBM and Alibaba

Kisspatents analysts shared their resultsrecently with the public. Although companies filed three times the number of blockchain patents in 2019 compared to the previous year, this number doubled in the first half of 2020 alone. Alibaba filed ten times as many patents as IBM. In terms of the total number of registered patents, IBM remains in first place for the time being. However, if Alibaba maintains the current pace when filing patents, it could take the lead by the end of the year.

FinTech applications predominate

For their study, the Kisspatents team only evaluated published patent applications that were filed in the USA. The patents cover a wide range of use cases.

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Half of all blockchain patents target the FinTech sector. The focus here is on the ecosystems of cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin exchanges. Behind it are patents for the handling of business processes via distributed ledgers. This category comprises one tenth of all applications submitted. Use cases in traditional banking and healthcare are still relevant.

By far the greatest number of blockchain patents come from the USA. The Cayman Islands take second place. An Alibaba subsidiary that is entrusted with the administration of its DLT patents has its headquarters there. What is surprising about the Kisspatents data, however, is the comparatively small amount of Chinese patent applications. This does not coincide with other studies on the subject.

Kisspatents himself points out methodological difficulties that arise when researching blockchain patents. Search queries then often result in requests in which „Blockchain“ and „DLT“ are mentioned, without actually referring to a Blockchain patent. To compensate for these shortcomings, Kisspatents resorted to the more complex method of natural language processing. The study results do not seem to have been confirmed by independent scientists so far. A healthy amount of skepticism is therefore advisable when dealing with the data.