Feature Management & legal News

China dominates global blockchain patents

global patents 2018 CAICT ledger insights

The recent endorsement by Chinese President Xi Jinping has accelerated an already fast-moving blockchain industry in the country. China seems to compete with the U.S. for blockchain dominance, and a recent report by the China Academy for Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) revealed that China is leaps ahead in blockchain patent filings.

Blockchain patents worldwide are concentrated in China, the United States, Canada, South Korea and the United Kingdom. From 2013 to December 20, 2018, China applied for 4,435 blockchain patents, accounting for 48% of the total blockchain patents, while the U.S. applied for 1,833 patents, accounting for 21%.

Nikkei reported that Alibaba Group topped the list of corporate applicants with 512 patent applications based on data from Innography. It is followed by U.K.-based nChain with 468 and IBM with 248. However, we believe these may have been cumulative submissions because China’s CAICT ranks nChain as first for 2017 and 2018, with Alibaba second for 2018 and forth in 2017.

China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) reported that China saw a total of 2,041 patent applications in the first quarter of 2019, up from just 317 during the same period in 2018, according to Sina Finance.

“The rapid growth of the number of patents in China’s blockchains not only represents China’s emphasis on and promotion of blockchain technology but also indicates that China will have greater international influence in the blockchain sector,” said the “China Blockchain Development Report (2019)” released on November 16 in Beijing.

For those unfamiliar with nChain, its Chief Scientist is Doctor Craig Wright who at times has claimed to be Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto. (Most disagree, and Wright has sued some of them for calling him names.)

According to the CAICT table of global patent applicants, in 2017, half of the top 20 were from China. In 2018 the figure rose to eleven out of 20.

A few months ago, IDC said it expects worldwide blockchain spending to reach $15.9 billion by 2023, with China hitting $2 billion during this period.

Meanwhile, China also sees a surge in regional blockchain companies with 27,784 companies registered as of June 2019. According to China, the U.S., however, leads with 1,430 global blockchain firms, followed by the U.K. with 465 registered firms.

However, a recent report by CCTV news found that only 10% of the companies using ‘blockchain’ in China had any blockchain activities at all. The rest are just profiting on the hype of blockchain in the country.

Even with the regulatory hurdles and China’s dislike for cryptocurrencies, the country is seeing numerous blockchain initiatives. IDC sees trade finance as the most prominent blockchain application in the country.

Links to Chinese firms on the patent list:
阿里巴巴 Alibaba
联通 China Unicom
腾讯 Tencent
杭州复杂美 Hangzhou Fu Za Mei
深圳市元征科技 Launch
百度 Baidu
众安信息 Zhong An
深圳前海达阔云端智能 CloudMinds
浪潮 Lang Chao (Inspur)
中链 Sino Chain
布比 Bubi
杭州云象网络 Yunphant
北京欧链 Beijing Science and Technology (OracleChain)
平安 Ping An
深圳市轱辘车联 Golo365
深圳市网心 One Thing Tech