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IBM tops US blockchain patent list, but blockchain not highest growth


Today IBM announced that it topped the 2019 list of U.S. patent recipients for a record 27th consecutive year. Additionally, it was granted the most blockchain patents. The surprise is that blockchain did not appear on the top ten list of growth categories at the U.S. patent office, according to a report from IFI Claims.

IBM said its grants included several patents related to blockchain network security. It described one of the applications as “resisting ‘replay attacks’, where an attacker copies and uses signature information from one transaction on a blockchain to later perform other transactions on the blockchain that are not authorized.”

Other categories where IBM excelled included AI, quantum and security patents.

However, IFI Claims’ researchers identified ten high growth patent areas, and blockchain didn’t get a mention. That could be in part because the measures are over five years, and much of blockchain’s emphasis has been in the last two or three years.

This doesn’t mean the growth was slow, and we believe blockchain is spread over numerous patent classifications. For example, patents for applications related to cryptography experienced 21.53% compound annual growth (CAGR) over five years. Business processing using cryptography had a five-year CAGR of 36.28%.

But that rate is low compared to the growth leader – hybrid flowering plants which came in with five-year CAGR of 117%. When it comes to computers, the highest growth relates to biological models (73.18%) which also had significant absolute numbers. Machine learning was up 52.1%, AI (computer systems based on mathematical models) grew 43.62% and Quantum computing patents increased by 38.11% over five years.

In terms of the most active companies to receive patents across all categories, IBM was followed by Samsung, Canon, Microsoft and Intel. The rest of the top ten was made up by LG, Apple, Ford, Amazon and Huawei.

Recently China’s CAICT published its review of global blockchain patents, in which IBM came in at number four. The CAICT research covered patent applications as opposed to IFI Claims’ publication which relates to grants in the U.S. only. In the CAICT research, the top spot was taken by nChain where the Chief Scientist Dr Craig Wright claims to be Satoshi Nakomoto, Bitcoin’s creator. Alibaba and Mastercard occupy the next two places.

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