How Blockchain Can Help to Protect Intellectual Property in the Age of the Internet of Things

Christopher Heer and Sarah Halkyard -

Blockchain’s functionality goes beyond cryptocurrency. The technology has advanced to be used to store records in areas such as the medical field and notaries. Another important field blockchain can be utilized for is intellectual property.

Blockchain and Intellectual Property

The immutable nature of blockchain provides a history of ownership and creation that cannot be tampered with. This is imperative to an intellectual property owner as it prevents a claim to ownership from being contested by another person. Using smart contracts with blockchain technology adds a layer of security and can be used to provide licenses or obtain royalties. Blockchain is also a valuable strategy to implement with the Internet of Things (IoT) to ensure user data is protected.

If you decide to store your intellectual property data using blockchain, it is still important to retain professional counsel trained in intellectual property law. An intellectual property lawyer will be able to discuss your options on how to best protect your creations. In the event a person attempts to infringe your work or contests your ownership, counsel can provide valuable guidance throughout the evidence gathering and the litigation process.

Implementing Blockchain

Implementing blockchain allows for a tamper-proof chain of evidence for copyright ownership. If a person were to change the data stored in the block, the hash value of that block would change. However, the next block would still retain the original hash value linking to the original block.

Changing the linking hash changes that block’s hash value as well. Unless a person is able to edit every block on the chain with the new corresponding hash values, a person cannot change the data stored on a block. This is low risk as the computing power to change every block’s hash is improbable for a person to have access to. Since blockchain provides a tamper-proof way to store data, a work’s owner can safely store their copyright information.

Along with being tamper-proof, blockchain provides a way to trace the ownership of a work. The original copyright date can be stored in the block’s data. If your copyright ownership was ever contested, the data can be used as evidence to prove your ownership.

The ability to trace ownership will save time and resources during evidence gathering if litigation is ever pursued as third parties will be able to view the chain of ownership. This can also be used to catalog and store original works or show the date of filing for patents or trademarks. As well, using blockchain to store your records allows your data to be housed internationally instead of only with a national patent office.

Smart Contracts and Security

The addition of smart contracts has increased the utility of implementing blockchain to protect one’s intellectual property. Smart contracts live on the blockchain and perform actions, such as allowing access to the information stored on the block, when conditions are met. By using this functionality, an owner can give licenses to users who want to access the intellectual property by accepting that user’s digital signature. An owner can also deny a person access to their work this way. Smart contracts can also be utilized to collect royalties from people who are using and accessing intellectual property by establishing a contract.

IoT may be considered to host intellectual property data. However, security continues to be a major concern facing IoT. Cyberattacks are becoming more prevalent and data security is at risk. While using a private network to host IoT devices may improve security, the use of blockchain technology in turn with IoT will add a layer of security. Storing intellectual property on a blockchain will ensure the data cannot be tampered with in the event a system faces a cyber incident.

Overall, blockchain is a technology that should not be overlooked when determining how to record data. The technology has advanced from being used for cryptocurrency. Blockchain now provides a secure option for storing valuable intellectual property data for works such as copyright and patents. The technology provides added functionality with smart contracts and added security for IoT technology.

Author
Christopher Heer and Sarah Halkyard - IP Lawyer, Heer Law

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Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...