Blockchain is most recognized for being the technology behind the famous Bitcoin cryptocurrency. It holds a vast attention recently as the blockchain technology possesses potential in revolutionizing different industries to a new era of technology and innovation that allows free open-source information sharing, inclusive peer-to-peer sharing platforms and open access financial technologies. Instead of centralised system, blockchain technology promotes a distributed system.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain, as the name indicated, is a chain of blocks with a growing list of records that are linked using cryptography. Each block comprises of data, hash and hash of previous block. Blockchain started with Bitcoin by “Satoshi Nakamoto”. It is basically a computationally distributed ledger to record and track transactions with timestamps, that is exchanged and verified on a peer-to-peer network using proof-of-work. Having said that, the verification is done by multiple computers that host the blockchain. Each block represents a single transaction, whereby multiple parties are allowed to verify before entering into the ledger, thus offering a reliable, integrity and transparency of record.
Global Impact of Blockchain Technology
Security, traceability and immutable chain of information via the blockchain has created a vast interest from different industries to extend its use not only on cryptocurrency coins but other possible application. In a recent global finding, blockchain technology has been implemented in marketing and consumer engagement, brand protection and enforcement, supply chain management, healthcare medical record management, to name a few. Its promising use in information management certainly beneficial to the user.
Every single detail is traceable and verifiable which thus provide confidence and reassurance of information. Blockchain technology establishes ownership via a ledger that is open to anyone who uses the system, thus difficult to hack or corrupt as it is not subject to the control of a single entity.
Recent Development of Blockchain in Malaysia
According to a latest survey commissioned by crpto firm Luno, the level of ownership and familiarity with cryptocurrencies was higher in Malaysia, Indonesia and South Africa compared to European markets.
The finding is not surprising since a number of blockchain projects have been launched in Malaysia. For instance, NEM Blockchain Centre housed in Malaysia provides a blockchain platform for application developers of all kinds from currencies, supply chains, notarizations and more. LuxTag which runs on the NEM Blockchain, creates a blockchain that keeps an immutable ledger of real luxury products that are registered in its system. Thus, enables their users to protect authenticity and ownership of their valuable assets by providing digitized certificates using blockchain technology.
Securities Commission Malaysia has recently announced a blockchain pilot project for the over-the-counter (OTC) markets. Neuroware is the sole technical vendor behind this pilot project, where Neuroware is able to work across different hosts of distributed ledger technologies without being tied to a specific ledger. The main goal of the pilot project is to record all transactions and market activities and make it available to all market participants while maintaining transaction confidentiality.
Malaysian Ministry of Education is also launching Blockchain Certificate Verification to combat degree fraud and to maintain the integrity and reputation of universities in the Southeast Asian country. The Malaysian education ministry has also launched a blockchain technology consortium to assist in the training of academics and students on blockchain technology. The blockchain technology consortium membership is largely drawn from universities in the country. Whilst Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) was the first public university in Malaysia to use blockchain technology to validate the authenticity of graduation certificates based on QR code.
On the other hand, Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) is leading the blockchain projects in three of the country’s largest industries, which are renewable energy, palm oil industry and Islamic finance. The blockchain implementation may not only boost the country’s economy but also increase transparency and sustainability in said sectors.
Protection of Blockchain Technology Under Intellectual Property (IP) Right
IP comprises of four primary types which include patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret. A right IP protection strategy may grant you an exclusivity right over your creation of mind for a period of time.
Blockchain system is protectable under patent. Getting a patent on blockchain system is similar to getting a software patent which the functioning of the technology is based on a series of steps performed. Of course, never forget the three basic criteria in getting a patent, they are novelty, inventive step and industrial application.
It can be seen a number of patent filings for blockchain-related inventions in recent years and is fast increasing over the countries. The promising financial return has led to fast-growing number of blockchain-based patent application, where control use of the blockchain concepts and technology could be ascertained by obtaining the patent rights for market exclusivity.
The blockchain-related patents that have filed to date, can be categorized into constructive technologies such as signatures, peer-to-peer; protocol such as proof-of-work; applications such as in financial, loyalty points, electronic coupon; cryptographic methods such as public key; and common standards such as hashes, transaction verification. The major filing countries are United States and China. In United States, the companies obtaining the most blockchain patents include IBM, MasterCard and Bank of America, which generally relate to improvements in the blockchain processing operations, or new uses of blockchains. Whilst in China, the internet giant Alibaba tops the worldwide ranking with a total of 90 patent applications focused on blockchain-related technologies in year 2018, according to IPR Daily released in August 2018.
Accordingly, the race to patent the blockchain-related inventions is foreseeable and possibly a big battle over the technology ownership and infringement lawsuit in near future.
Blockchain – The Future IP Protection System
Vice versa, the application of blockchain technology in IP management is possible and favourable. The possible area for IP management via blockchain technology includes IP registration, enforcement, assignment, transaction and infringement, such as digital rights management such as online movie websites, evidence of genuine use in trade, counterfeiting control, licenses or exclusive distribution networks through smart contracts, evidence of use and many more.
For instance, through the triggering of smart contracts, a copyright owner who uploaded a verified, searchable piece of work and related content via online, is able to collect royalties and allocate the collection to their own digital wallets. Thus, proof of copyright ownership in the absence of a definitive registration system could be resolved via the blockchain system. Generally, the process of defending intellectual property may be streamlined with the introduction of blockchain system, whereby IP owners will be in a better position to track down the infringer and get compensated.
There are companies who have developed and are providing blockchain based IP protection system such as Bernstein Technologies based in Munich who offers a range of tools for creating and enforcing IP Law.
Relevant governmental agencies and IP registries could have actively looking into the capabilities of blockchain since sooner or later it will become mainstream in the industry. However, there are many potential obstacles in the large-scale legal application of the technology. Possible challenges include the governing laws and jurisdiction since blockchain is across networks, enforceability of smart rights, data security and privacy concerns, and et cetera.
Since the number of blockchain-based technology is rapidly growing over the globe, necessary measurements shall take into account to cater the possible legal disputes in near future.