Alibaba on Track to Be the Largest Blockchain Patent Holder by End of 2020: Study

Chinese conglomerate Alibaba is on track to become the largest blockchain patent holder, having filed ten times more than closest rival IBM.

Sep 17, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:57 a.m. UTC

Alibaba is on track to supersede U.S. computer giant IBM as the single-largest holder of blockchain-related patents, according to a new study.

  • A report from intellectual property consultancy KISSPatent Thursday found the Chinese tech conglomerate was "definitely running the show," having already published ten times more blockchain patents than IBM, its nearest rival, so far this year.
  • Should Alibaba continue at its current pace, the study predicted it would become the biggest patent holder in blockchain by the end of 2020.

  • KISSPatent said this was part of a broader surge in the number of blockchain-related patents published. The first half of 2020 had more patents than the whole of 2019. In turn, 2019 had triple the number of blockchain patents compared to 2018.
  • Another key point was that most of the patents were filed by traditional Fortune 500 companies rather than companies that exist wholly within the blockchain space.
  • That might be down to blockchain's prevailing open-source culture, which is at odds with the practice of patent filing, KISSPatent said.
  • Indeed, Jack Dorsey's Square last week set up a non-profit group for blockchain companies to pool patents and preserve the industry's open-source spirit.
  • Just in the past few months, Alibaba has patented a cross-chain system that it claims is better than Cosmos, as well as a blockchain that protects music copyright.

EDIT (Sept. 22, 15:05 UTC): This article has been updated to clarify that Alibaba has published 10 times more blockchain patents than IBM in this year only.

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