On August 30, 2018, Andrew MacArthur and Ralph Dengler published “How to conduct a blockchain IP audit” in World Intellectual Property Review. Here is an excerpt:

The rise of blockchain technology and its many applications, including banking and supply chain, continues to disrupt business. Blockchain provides the benefits of being immutable and decentralized, among others. It integrates distributed networks, cryptography, and consensus algorithms in potentially new and complex ways, forcing companies to reconsider how IP—patents, trade secrets, trademarks, trade dress, and copyright—should be optimized.


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Blockchain is a transformative technology that already is altering the way business is done across many industries. The name “blockchain” refers to digital, decentralized and distributed ledger technology that provides a means to immutably record information (i.e., a “block”) and share and maintain the records of that information (i.e., a “chain”) within a public or private community. The underlying digital ledger technology relies on cryptographic principles and acts as a secure repository for the information being recorded and shared. For a simple example (and real-world application), consider the deed to a parcel of land. Under the traditional method of recording ownership, a centrally maintained, manual ledger of entries and volumes of related documents reflect the history of the property as it was owned and transferred over time. Using blockchain technology, a decentralized, digital ledger permanently records all such transactions, building upon the prior transactions, and remains accessible to anyone with the cryptographic “key.”

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