The number of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related patent applications being submitted and published in the US has nearly doubled in 2017.
Data from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database, analyzed by CoinDesk, indicates that there were 390 patent applications related broadly to blockchain technology published between January and July of this year.
Overall, this represents a 90% increase compared to the same period in 2016, when 204 applications were sent to the USPTO.
The dataset includes combined keyword search results using terms such as "bitcoin," "ethereum," "blockchain" and "distributed ledger," among others.
With growing interests from both public and private sector, the data supports the notion blockchain is experiencing a research and development boom. The past several months have seen applications related to bitcoin mining derivatives, in-car cryptocurrency payments and blockchain-based shareholder voting, to name just a few.
The degree of growth is even more apparent when you look at the number of applications over the past five years. In 2012, just 71 related applications were filed, compared to 469 over the course of 2016.
Figures for the number of related patents being awarded are also growing, according to the data.
The number of patents granted increased from 70 in 2013 to 152 in 2016. However, the pass rate of applications has been declining.
While in 2011 and 2012 most of the application were granted, applications in 2015 and 2016 only saw a roughly 50% chance of success, based on the number ultimately awarded.
Several patent awards have made headlines recently, capping long-standing efforts to secure intellectual property around the technology. These include Goldman Sachs, which was granted its "SETLcoin" cryptocurrency patent, and AT&T, which was awarded a patent for a bitcoin-powered subscriber server.
Rubber stamp image via Shutterstock