Much has been written and discussed about how blockchain technology would bring about fundamental changes to the financial industry which could actually threaten the very existence of banks as intermediary trust centers. At the latest after the major central banks met about a year ago in Washington at a three-day event, hosted by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the US Federal Reserve, to discuss blockchain and crypto currencies, it probably dawned on a wider public that the hype around blockchain must be more than just that.
In a recent in-depth analysis report, the European Parliamentary Research Service investigated how blockchain technology could change our lives. Indeed, blockchain has potential for application way beyond Fintech - so the current hype may actually be understated.
Blockchain for Patents
While the Internet provides a global network for sharing and communicating information, blockchain will use this network for managing and transferring value and assets in a distributed trust system. The European Parliament's in-house research department and think tank identified digital contents and rights management, the electoral system, supply chains, and smart contracts as fields of blockchain applications beyond the current crypto currency developments. What is of interest here is that, aside from its potential impact on public services in general, the report pointed out that blockchain could help the patent system. While it has been suggested that blockchain could substitute or even abolish the patent system, the report acknowledged that blockchain makes it possible for an innovator to record content, such as a description of an invention, and to proof later the time of recording and the content recorded, without having to reveal the content in the meantime. The report agreed that blockchain could reduce inefficiencies in the registration process across several national patent systems, but found that blockchain did not lend itself to promoting innovation, as it does not provide for publication and cannot assess novelty and other patentability requirements, as patent examiners do. Nevertheless, as the number of patent applications continues to increase, so will the demand for a more efficient patent system. In a system where novelty and inventive step of patent applications are examined only per request and as needed, blockchain could very well be the basis for a global registration system for innovation. The...