Legal and IP News

U.S. Customs tests blockchain for intellectual property protection

imports products trade

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it recently completed a proof-of-concept (PoC) of a blockchain platform to protect American businesses from intellectual property rights (IPR) theft by testing imports. 

The PoC demonstrated how blockchain could enable secure communication between multiple parties such as manufacturers, retailers, rights holders and importers using a single platform. 

IPR owners live under the constant risk of their product getting copied, primarily due to the ease of access to overseas manufacturing. CBP is leveraging blockchain to tackle the import of counterfeit products. 

“Supporting American innovation and ingenuity by upholding intellectual property rights has always been a critical part of the CBP mission,” said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade. “This pilot represents great potential for marrying new technology with our traditional trade mission; to protect the U.S. economy.”

The PoC was funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate and tested by CBP’s Office of Trade. The announcement said personal data and trade secrets would be kept safe using encrypted keys, with the blockchain acting as an immutable ledger to record trade transactions.

The CBP said blockchain-enabled it to clearly identify and link a product to its license, resulting in fewer physical examinations. The solution is said to be interoperable, allowing participants to connect with their existing software solutions and communicate with each other. CBP added that interoperability was achieved using open, standardized approaches. 

This is one of the many blockchain PoC’s within the U.S. Government. The DHS is funding several projects and has made blockchain grants in use cases such as cybersecuritycredentialing, and imports of raw materials and Canadian oil

Last year, Ledger Insights reported that the U.S. government was working on blockchain projects for international trade, along with the pre-announcement of this IPR rights PoC. 

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