Blockchain patent filings indicate that IBM, Walmart and Alibaba are currently the most active in R&D

Quick Take

  • Half of the pending patents have been filed by only seven companies  – IBM, nChain, Walmart, Intel, Alibaba, Mastercard and Bank of America
  • Out of more than 1,000 reviewed patent applications, only about 10% have been granted 
  • South-Korean blockchain service provider Coinplug is leading the way with 26 granted patents
  • IBM has applied for more than 100 blockchain-related patents in the last six months. Walmart and Alibaba have also been active.

Patents are a way for companies or individuals to legally protect intellectual property while sharing these ideas with the public. The blockchain space—ideologically rooted in open source—has traditionally been skeptical of companies that patent novel blockchain developments. The vast majority of projects in the ecosystem is developed as open source, which means anyone can review the code, propose modifications, or even fork the project (remixing it to a new development).