By Manoj Poonia, Vice President Effectual Services
“The ultimate aim of making the innovational sphere a fair playfield to nurture as well as promote innovation, depends solely on the amount on reliability as well as transparency we can offer. The introduction of the Blockchain to the supply chain is the catalyst we need to achieve all of that.”
The spark towards the information revolution kindled by Blockchain is the modern-day counter-part of what steam engine and other technologies did for the industrial revolution back then. The distributed ledger introduced to the world back in 2008, is pushing the boundaries of the digitised world by revolutionising every industry from Fintech to real estate and has the potential of bringing another radical transformation due for the mankind since the advent of Internet. The biggest uncertainty regarding the digital ledger paying back to the IPR industry for the protection it has offered to the notion since its conception is no longer followed by a question mark, as PTOs all over the world are exploring the different applications of the immutability, reliability, transparency and security offered by Blockchain to the various aspects of the life cycle of IP rights.
Blockchain: Applications in IP
The first and foremost application of the technology in the domain takes the form of a “Smart register” for maintaining an online registry of IP assets and registering patents, trademarks etc. to put an end on the slowpoke and money sinkhole disputes surrounding the ownership of IP assets. Another application lies in tracking the forgery of protected goods by mounting a Blockchain base tag to track the entire lifecycle of goods. Further, in the PTOs, the technology can redefine the working of every stage from filing-to-grant of the application by minimizing the human effort required and can hence reduce the time-to-grant for the applications, something, the inventors and PTOs have collectively wished for throughout the years.
Blockchain in IP: The Indian Landscape
Protection of the assets and IPR rights has always been a worrisome area in India and has even obstructed or atleast impeded the foreign investments in certain sectors. For the same reason, the Central Government has been keenly working on strengthening the IPR regime in the country and the recent steps by the government, like expediting time-to-grant, promoting IPR in the educational sector, increasing the number of examiners etc. have all been in the same direction. But the greatest step towards the notion can be seen in the form of the recent tender issued by the IPO exploring the use of AI and Blockchain to form the platform “IndiaChain”. It is expected to be the world’s largest blockchain implementation program in governance.
The IPO aims to revolutionise the IP process via the infrastructure by using the hash-based technology to improve the experience for inventors as well as examiners. By streamlining the registration process via Blockchain, the IPO purports to be able to foretell the timelines for the inventors regarding the different actions of the office as well as rectify the disparities surrounding the first to file rule among the applicants.
Despite the concerns surrounding the enormous task of inter-connecting IP registries and the massive power requirements of a Blockchain-based infrastructure, IPO has laid down the foundation stone for the amalgamation of the technology into the IP ecosystem. If the prophecy regarding the technology being even more beneficial to the innovational sphere than the finance domain, turns out to be true, we might see IPO moving towards more advanced uses of the technology like ledger management, a supervisory authority for tracking the use of IP assets in the market and their commercialization for investors via a bidding system; providing a central and government-backed market place for innovators to catch the eyes of the tech-titans etc. and many other potential applications bringing the revolution promised by the ledger to the table.
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