World’s First Patent Blockchain Network, IPwe, Verified 5K Patents in the past 6 Months Using the Power of IBM Blockchain Platform

The patent market has become increasingly more complex – today, there are 20 million active patents from 200 national patent offices, but there is no central registry to easily track owners. Inaccurate data has opened the door to layers of intermediary costs, making it hard to answer simple questions about patents and near impossible to effectively measure Patent ROI. On top of this, we are seeing rapidly increasing rates of innovation and increasing market risks as new technologies emerge, litigation continues, and emerging markets become more dominant.

This isn’t a problem any company can afford to ignore – for a large number of companies, the vast majority of patent investment is wasted. More importantly, the shifting landscape both in terms of technology and geography means many existing corporations – even market leaders – risk being left behind as markets evolve and they get out-competed by those that get it right.

Helping companies to both formulate and execute on strategies to address these market-level problems is the driving force behind IPwe and why we’ve created the IPwe platform – to help companies manage their IP as a strategic & financial asset – reducing costs, enabling better returns and providing metrics to measure both the value of these assets and the overall success of your patent strategy.

Summarized into problems we needed to solve, we narrowed it down to 3 key things:

  1. Market transparency & automation – how do we answer simple questions such as does a patent exist and what is it worth? How do we make all forms of patent transactions faster & cheaper?
  2. Access to a global network of technology – how do we drive a higher rate of global transactions? How do we connect the right parties together on the right technologies to drive innovation?
  3. New solutions & new markets – how do we better leverage the value of patents as an asset class? How can we help better capitalize on market opportunities and mitigate market risks?

None of these are simple problems to solve, particularly in a market as complex and fragmented as the patent market. It became clear to us early on that this was a problem that only exponential technologies such as AI & Blockchain could solve. 

Our journey in building a Blockchain network to solve these problems began in 2017. The initial version of the Global Patent Registry (GPR) was actually developed using Ethereum but it quickly became apparent that in order to achieve the levels of confidentiality, resilience and scalability necessary to support the patent ecosystem (including an enhanced patent transaction process), a more robust, enterprise solution was needed. Realizing the opportunity, we were introduced to the open source consortium Hyperledger and built the GPR on the IBM Blockchain Platform based on Hyperledger Fabric. 

Since December 2018, five thousand patents or assets have had their ownership verified on the GPR and over $50MM in patent sale or licensing programs have been put on the platform. The first patent sale transaction was an international sale of over 100 patent assets for $3+ million. By using blockchain, the transaction time was reduced by nearly 70% and costs were greatly reduced. As we deploy the platform on the IBM Blockchain Platform, this will provide increased flexibility to integrate AI with the current activity on the blockchain.

Our technology introduces controlled transparency (permissioned access to a wealth of data & contextual information relevant to a particular patent) and removes the barriers to understanding the critical aspects of patents.  Today, AI permits anyone to capture a basic level of understanding of what a patent is about and its key attributes. For executives, this includes high-level ratings and profiles that can inform decisions. For internal IP professionals, it improves their efficiency and permits them to focus on high value issues. Once decisions are made, IBM’s blockchain technology facilitates substantial reductions in cost and unlocks commercialization and financial opportunities without requiring additional corporate resources.  IPwe uses these exponential technologies to power its patent platform.  

Transacting in patents

Traditionally buying and selling patents has been complex.  Most do not know how to value them. It’s difficult to know comps of a patent, the value of similar patents in the marketplace. Combining IPwe’s powerful AI engine along with IBM Blockchain, we’ve solved this problem and have successfully been able to reduce trade time from months to just a few weeks and in some cases less.  

The IPwe platform can understand the quality, validity and value of patents, predict & connect likely transacting parties and patent owners can gain access to capital using patent financing on the platform.  

A Tradable Asset

Patents, the license to monetize an idea, are becoming increasingly bought, sold and traded.  The blockchain network facilitates the capture of key data (like ownership) and reduces transaction costs in a secure, transparent environment and leverages Smart Contracts to improve contract administration.

A common industry problem is when no one knows who owns a patent. We created the registry; we verify using blockchain and now it’s a tradable asset. However, we don’t manage the patent. Once clients go through the process of acquiring a patent, IPwe facilitates records and uses Smart Contracts to enforce agreements.

Look to the future

To date, IPwe has built a robust platform to register your patents, build sale and license programs, borrow against the value of your patents, standardize patent contracts and lower the cost of transactions.  Looking to the future, there are number features we’ll be adding to the platform.

By late 2019, we expect to have launched the GPR Foundation, a non-profit focused on turning the GPR into the world’s first true global record of all the world’s active patents. We are also working to leverage new payment mechanisms, unlocked by blockchain, to introduce greater transparency and cost reductions to other parts of the patent ecosystem (i.e. Annuities).

With the recent unveiling of a software version of IBM Blockchain Platform announced this past month, we are looking ahead as pioneer user of the product. We also soon anticipate the ability to allow patent owners to create patent pledges that will live on the Global Patent Registry, drastically improving the transparency & functioning of existing and future programs.

As our network develops, we hope to see the GPR and IPwe Platform becomes the single point of truth for tracking any and all patent activity, serving as the bridge that connects companies, patent owners, law firms, service providers and Patent Offices globally. Our solution will drive interoperability across what is currently a market of disparate & fragmented ecosystems, enabling different parties to connect and transact on any patent service, agnostic of entry point, seamlessly. 

IPwe, using IBM Blockchain technology, is paving the way for organizations to unlock the value of their patents, drive global collaboration and unlock new possibilities to drive innovation. 

by Dan Bork   //   June 20, 2019

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