As the Financial Times reported, China was the most active filer of blockchain-related patent applications in 2017.
Data collected by Thomson Reuters from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) showed that more than half of the 406 blockchain-related patent applications filed in 2017 came from China.
Overall, blockchain-related patent filings grew 16% in 2017.
The US was number two in blockchain patent filings, with 91, and Australia was number three with 13.
Six of the top-nine applicants for blockchain patents were Chinese companies, led by Beijing Technology Development.
The leading US applicant was MasterCard.
The most famous use of the blockchain is to enable cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin.
US and European companies dominate patent filings specifically related to cryptocurrencies, with 54 applications by IBM, 35 by Gemalto (in the Netherlands), 34 by Intel, and 27 by Amazon.
However, the blockchain can also be used for things like tracking chickens.
As the Financial Times reported, ZhongAn Online Property & Casualty Insurance, launched in 2014,
uses tracking devices and facial recognition technology to follow the movement of free-range chickens, from hatching to packaging, on hundreds of farms across China. Poultry are fitted with tracking devices on their legs and the data are logged using a blockchain ledger — an unalterable record that underlies cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
Customers can download an application on to their smartphones that allows them to track a chicken’s route to the supermarket, and provides access to the bird’s life history along with charts showing its level of activity.
Letting consumers verify that chickens are actually free range may help farmers sell their chicken meat at a premium price.
The blockchain technology is intended to help address some of China’s food safety issues.
To receive poetic updates on IP law, sign up for our monthly collection of patent haikus and news here: