Essay on Benefits of Blockchain and Smart Contract to Protect IP
University of affiliation
Blockchains are versatile technology that is appearing in every source of innovations from financial, distribution, and insurance sectors just to name a few, of which many of these innovations are promising in current trends in innovation technology. Nevertheless, any time innovators come up with new innovative technology the problem of stimulation of their respective development arises (Abrishami, 2019 ). On several occasions’ innovations relating to blockchains are established on a free software framework, however, more of these innovations are filed on the blockchain application hence the relationship between blockchain and intellectual property.
Blockchain has made lots of headlines for many years now, in fact, no day has gone by without blockchain making headlines, however, the canter of attention has not been blockchain but cryptocurrency i.e., especially Bitcoin, and other endless potentials of applications including smart contracts (Almasoud, 2020). The introduction of Blockchain technology has revolutionized the way people, and organizations do their daily transactions with the least number of intermediaries and possibly no government interventions.
Blockchain technology serves product and services of all kind ranging from private to public sectors leading to a certain form of a shared economy (Cole, et al. 2019). However, challenges and new venturers have come to light concerning blockchain-based applications which alarms the increase in several legal, and intellectual property issues that required immediate attention. These legal issues include the protection of investors, the definition and execution of smart contracts, and other necessary relevant laws.
Blockchain can be defined as an open ledger containing data that can be used to record and make a trail of that transaction for tracking purposes, and which can be exchanged and get verified on a peer-to-peer network (Antonopoulos, et al.2018 ). Blockchain and any other related distributed technology create a trustworthy and transparent platform of making entries of a transaction by allowing various parties involved in a transaction to do verification on what will be entered into the ledger in the advance stages of the transaction without any single party having the ability to change any ledger entries later on. Any transaction done is transmitted to all involved stakeholders in the network and must be verified by all the stakeholders solving a complex mathematical puzzle and immediately the transaction is verified it is then tallied to the ledger (Dounas, 2020).
The transactions that have been verified by the involved participants into the chain cannot be changed because changing the transaction will require that the entire chain be modified hence even in the absence of the state, bank, intellectual property officer, and notary a blockchain is very securer as its distributed, and decentralized characteristic prevents any cheating from any participant and this level of safety is made possible because of three important qualities (Drummer, 2020).
Transparency; all transactions appearing on the chain are identified by a code, which all members can track as all have access to the chain via the internet and by the fact that this transaction can be verified by all participants. This transparency level in the blockchain gives assurance to all member involved of the security and improve trust amongst the participants.
Decentralization and Distribution; the information is made available to several users who rely on a network of computers that establishes a distributed ledger that requires constant recordkeeping. Decentralization and distribution allow the possibility of launching and developing efficient, real and effective peer-to-peer system allowing in turn for the development of a real sharing economy with a shortened value chain between the provider and their customer (Finck M, 2019). The distributed nature of blockchain specifically provides a very high-security level against hacking as the chain does not have a specific server but operate from multiple servers.
Immutability; the heftiness characterizes the chain technology as the transactions cannot be principally possible to change or modify, all records are readily available in the ledger and they appear in sequences and the order of their appearance cannot be changed either.
Smart contracts are a self-executing agreement that exists between the buyer and the seller being directly written in a form of codes, these codes and agreements contained therein exist across distributed, and decentralized blockchain network. The execution of these transactions is based on the codes and the transactions are trackable and irreversible by any participant involved (Guadamuz A, 2015).
Intellectual property is a comprehensive definite explanation of intangible assets that owned and legally protected by a company from the use by outsiders without the consent of the company. The sole idea behind intellectual property is based on the fact that all forms of assets owned by various companies should be afforded the same level of protection rights. Intellectual property right in particular patent and copyright have progressed as tools serving the purpose of stimulating innovations through the grant of territory, time, and object limit protection to the owner (Ito, 2019).
The intellectual property right is considered one method of stimulating innovations as many innovators would not waste their time on any inventions that they know would be copied by their competitors immediately they have been disclosed. However, behaviours considered to fall under article 39 of the world trade organization on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Right (TRIPS) can be exempted from such laws.
From a general perspective, intellectual property right limits the general right of copying by giving an exclusive right to the owner to stop any third party from using their right commercially without their consent (Khatoon, 2019). Legislators, however, have set a balanced condition of protections between the legitimate private interest and the public interest to have an access to the intellectual property or service and any other incorporated property. Intellectual property can be grouped into the following categories; patent, copyright, trademarks, franchises, trade secrets, and special considerations.
Benefits of Using Blockchain and Smart Contract to Manage and Protect Intellectual Property.
Intellectual Property Right Management and Technology Transfer; Blockchain and the smart contract could be used by inventors who are hoping for possible investors and safeguarding their inventions at the same time. A description in the ledger might consist of characters and goals of the inventions, making those who would wish to have any accesses to the invention for more information on its workability will then be required under the smart contract to accept all the requirements in the agreement (Guadamuz A, 2015). Similarly, through the application of intellectual property rights inventors would be at armistice when doing publications of their technological development because they will have full protection from the intellectual property rights that would guarantee their freedom to operate without any fear of being copied by their respective rivalries (McConaghy, 2016). The use of artificial intelligence has risen gradually in the past years. Artificial intelligence scours the web for intellectual property that is covered by copyright law and provide any intelligence relating to the unauthorized use of the intellectual property (Kolokotronis, 2019). In case of any unauthorized use of the intellectual property is detected then the inventor can initiate the legal proceedings against the unauthorized use of their inventions.
Blockchain as an Intellectual Property Registry; Blockchain can serve as a technology base intellectual property office where intellectual property owners keep the shredded digital certificates of their respective IP. However, they can similarly use this blockchain to get power from anybody who chooses to use their invention using a smart contract. The reality surrounding the long-time waiting of approval of various patents by the patent agencies and regulatory bodies cannot be ignored, in cases where incumbents want to protect inventions of their own and they need to move fast to stay on top of the game the long patent and regulatory approvals can endanger such initiative (Mistry, 2020). Therefore, replacing the centralized registration system with a decentralized system of registration will make the work easy not for those who want to register new Intellectual property but for those who want to update filings and transfer ownership at any time anywhere.
Proof of Ownership; there is a growing need to protect original work and inventors from copyrights, the registration of copyrights need not come into existence automatically on the creation of original qualifying work. however, this happens all the time because of the lack of resources by the author to file their work (Kouhizadeh, 2020). Cases relating to copyrights are the most difficult to legally prove because the authors cannot exactly identify who is/ have been using their work, and similar third parties who are using the work find it also difficult to identify whom to seek a license from. In a way of example, unregistered design right, blockchain can provide evidence of use, the conception of the design, qualification requirements i.e., blockchain can provide the originality and the country in which the first article made about the design were first marked. Blockchain creates a time frame when the design was first uploaded, the details of the designer and therefore in case of any issue relating to the design the blockchain will provide solid evidence to clarify and prove who owns the design.
Smart Contract and Digital Right Management; as discussed above blockchain can hold, execute, and monitor contractual codes. A smart contract can be used to establish and enforce intellectual property agreement including license and allowing the transfer of payments to the owner in real-time (Modic, et al. 2019). Example include the launch of the blockchain image right management platform and the use of their currency by Kodak. A smart contract allows the Ip owner to propose terms and regulation for the use of their intellectual property allowing the owner to have direct contact with the buyer or those who just want to license the creation. For example, the relationship between the artist and those who want to buy their intellectual property, by the use of micropayment and smart contract has made people who make music, writings and art get more for their effort wholly while they still keep their intellectual intact (Möhlmann, 2020).
Blockchain For Unifying Patent; there is a growing problem of unification of patent system across the world. However, this problem can be solved by blockchain decentralized ledger technology. The unification of global patent could vastly improve the effectiveness of intellectual property management hereafter positively influencing the speed of innovations processes in various companies and foster the distribution of information across these companies. Nevertheless, collecting information on research and their respective inventions may be smoothed by introducing patents to the research and storage of this important information (Modic, 2019). for examples laboratory, research notebooks can become forge proof document in helping various researchers hold records of their work which are in progress hereafter blockchain can help improve the security of these digitalized notebooks as they would be securer in an immutable ledger.
The current state of the matter greatly indicating that various legislations and patent offices are gradually moving towards the acceptance of blockchain as legally admissible evidence example include; Arizona HB 2417 amended the Arizona Electronic transaction Act to include blockchain records, signature and smart contract, which may not be denied legal effect, the validity or enforceability Ohia passed the same legislation in 2018.
Maintaining Version Control of Digital Assets; Digitalized assets like copyrights, publications, and Patent are always kept in multiple versions through their lifetime and this call for a technology that can provide linking of multiple versions of digital assets during its lifecycle. Blockchain technology can be in a system where individuals and companies can link all of their varieties of digital assets using the blockchain ledger technology and potentially use it for end-to-end lifespan upkeep of various assets (Kouhizadeh, 2020). Applications of blockchain technology in linking multiple digital assets and being in a position to timely control the digital assets, widely open endless possibilities for various people to collaborate on several aspects and allow people to shape their ideas that are leading to an advanced modernization in the businesses (Nanayakkara, 2019).
Micropayments and Licensing Through Smart Contract; smart contract and blockchain technology can be used to license intellectual property by a way of reducing the cost of transaction and creating a direct link between the author and the users of the IP. A smart contract is a code generated by a computer program that is capable of facilitating, executing and enforcing a contract by itself (Noto La Diega, 2018). Smart contract reduces the administrative burden and cost because the contractual terms are pre-programmed hence does not need any human resource for its enforcement.
Hub for Music Makers Through the Mycelia Project; the creative passport developed by the mycelia project is a digital container for verified profile information i.e., acknowledgement, IDs, work, business partners, and payment mechanisms for all music makers (Raskin M, 2017). Mycelia project aims to develop a digital identity standard for those who make music subsequently a creative passport database is then collectively formed hence ensuring gradual evolution into the essential connective hub for all music-related services. Through the usage of various blockchain templates i.e., creative passport, the smart contract will enable easy and quick payment directly to the music owner (Saberi, 2019).
People who will wish to link in and take advantage of their rich data will or market their respective services to the passport holder, these people will have to get access to the creative passport database after a successful subscription for the service. The profit made from the subscription fees will directly go to the upkeep of the creative passport services and the passport holder. The mycelia project main intention is to use blockchain as its platform for hosting immutable metadata about various songs, those who will record the songs, who will listen to these songs (Sklaroff, 2017). This idea will create an enabling peer-to-peer method of payment and this will restore lots of equity in songs and to the artist, producers, and engineers who made the songs.
Anti-Counter Fate and Enforcement of IP Right; the blockchain ledger that holds intellectual rights data will allow for source authentication, this is because blockchain technology can record factually certifiable details about where and when the products are made, details relating to the manufacturing and the sources of raw materials (Tang, 2019). However, authorities, consumers, and insurers can be able to verify the authenticity of products and provide confidence reassurance for business through the use of anti-counterfeit and enforcement of intellectual property.
Adding scannable blockchain connected tags, tamperproof seal to various foodstuffs is a key in convincing the use case of distributed ledger technology and can perform a critical role in the fight against counterfeit (Wang, 2019). The border officials will have an easy job in dealing with counterfeit this is concerning the idea that the owners of the products inform the customs authorities about the security features which his/ her product should have then the absence of such feature shall indicate that such product is fake and the seller/ transporter should be an arrest.
The advantage to micro small and medium enterprises; when the information regarding the expiry of Intellectual property is availed on the blockchain, it will encourage those who operate in MSMEs to invest their available resources in the free world without any fear of other rights and also to use the technology for which the intellectual property has expired. i.e., the intellectual property that is considered to have expired should be published on the blockchain to enable those who can recycle such information to get a deferent intellectual should be allowed to do so with the expired intellectual (Wüst, 2018). When such expired intellectual is availed on the blockchain those who work in the MSME should have the opportunity to have the same information just like those who deem the information to have expired.
Blockchain can be used to protect digital certificates; blockchain technology can be used to verify and issue digital certificates attesting to the right status of a particular work. Any certificate that is showing critical information about work should be registered under the protection of blockchain and cryptographically signed by the asserting authority (Zeilinger, 2018).
Any certificate that is written to blockchain is tamperproof as compared to those of paper certificate and therefore when a document/certificate is stored on the blockchain there is no reason to doubt that anything will happen to that document as it is safe till it transferred back to the paper form ((Saberi, 2019). Various certificates can be issued for a different description of a certain property or work, certificates can contain rights information, bibliography information, contractual conditions for either reuse or use at that particular time and any other information relating to work.
Any certificate brought that need to be stored and protected by blockchain is first cryptographically signed by the entity vouching for the validity of the information that is contained in that certificate and then recorded on a blockchain along with a timestamp. Any certificate written to a blockchain can be used widely depending on the circumstance to give confidence to users of work that the license they are to rely on is indeed the license that applies to work.
Decentralize archive for intellectual property; one of the most valuable assets in modern society if the information and the information need to be protected. Many initiatives have been launched to archive content and information data in digital format. i.e., GLAMs for instance have tried for years to come up with the right methodology on how to archive intellectual property with no permanent solution for the problem ((Modic, 2019). The main reason why people prefer digital preservation is that it allows them to continuously access and use such information for many years to come. For this information to last for years it requires that the storage be secured and protected, this means managing the storage and also ensuring that the storage is accessible even after the hardware and software used to create and view such information have become outdated. The best way to store such information is in a publicly accessible data store. This problem of archiving intellectual property can be solved by the use of blockchain technology ((Almasoud, 2020). Blockchain technology provides for a decentralized store that does not rely on any entity to preserve information or to choose which information to store.
Democratizing intellectual property for public use; blockchain technology is the best platform that creators can use to donate to the public domain their intellectual property. Immediately work is created copyright automatically comes into existence. On many occasions, this benefits the creator however it generates problems for creators who wish to see their intellectual help and change the life of the common citizenry as a big part of the public domain. Realistically it has not been possible for creators to put their innovation in the public domain in a way that people can use it carefully and dependably.
The user can only use this intellectual property either if the copyright has expired or if the work was issued under a specific license that allowed them to use the work. However, there is always a risk of infringement on the user’s side (Cole, et al. 2019. This problem of copyright infringement on the users has now been solved by the development of a CCO license which is specifically for a dedication of work or innovation to the public. CCO license is irreversible i.e., when work has been made available under the CCO license it can be used for all time however the issue of proof remains a concern to users themselves. Blockchain technology recordkeeping could be used to state the creator’s intent to dedicate the work to the public domain or even their intent to release the work at some later date under the CC license (Guadamuz A, 2015). Blockchain holds massive technology that anybody can legally use and reuse if the need arises short of any body’s permission, such libraries when made public increase the collaborative innovations that benefits the public (Dounas, 2020). Moreover, inventors can register their innovations on blockchain in the format of designs mock-ups, code, blueprints etc.
In conclusion, intangible assets are more important to the value of a company and the success of the company depends on such assets and the return on the intellectual property investment. The lifecycle of blockchain technology in the protection of intellectual property should make sure that assets both tangible and intangible are credited upon creation, secure from fraud and operate on a network that promotes operational efficiency and product innovation. The above-discussed issues explain how intellectual property owns can use blockchain technology to protect and have full control and exploit their IP.
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