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Blockchain: New Technology, Old Theme

This is the gist of my remarks from the Second Annual Black Blockchain Summit held in Washington, DC in September 2019.

One of the speakers before me asked, “Is Bitcoin the new Jesus?”

When I got to the microphone I replied, “no, but Satoshi Nakamoto may be.”

Satoshi Nakamoto is the obscure figure that founded the Bitcoin and Blockchain movements. Like early stories of Christ, Satoshi’s origin is shrouded in mystery. Though Satoshi’s name is Japanese, people wonder is that really his nationality? Is he a he, or is he a she? Is Satoshi a singular person or a group of people?

Like Christ, Satoshi’s teachings have gone against the established order. Satoshi’s Bitcoin brought forth the idea of a peer-to-peer financial trading system that could be performed without the use of a third party, eliminating money trading middle men from the equation. Sound familiar?

As time passed, Satoshi began to obtain followers that adopted his Bitcoin teachings and put them into action. Dare we call them disciples? We do not know if the author of Bitcoin is still with us, but like Christ, over time his ideas have become stronger, and adopted by people far and wide.

Explaining how Intellectual Property fits within the Blockchain world

When the power of the new Christian movement could not be overcome, the main ruling class of the day, the Roman Empire, adopted Christianity as the state religion and used it for its own purposes, defining various aspects of it, and spreading its influence over time.

Although Bitcoin was initially adopted by a rebellious few, many companies have adopted the principles of Bitcoin and Blockchain into their technologies, for their profit and gain, and to exclude others from their innovations. In our technological and legal world, one way for companies to leverage the power of Blockchain is to file for Intellectual Property rights – including Patents and Trademarks.

To date, over five hundred companies and individuals have filed for U.S. Trademarks on company names that include some variation of Bitcoin or Blockchain.

Regarding U.S. Patents, about eight hundred (900) U.S. patents have been granted that primarily reference Blockchain and supporting technologies such as distributed ledgers, public key/private key infrastructures, smart contracts, authentication, and cryptocurrencies. The number of granted U.S. Blockchain patents has doubled every year since 2013.

Many companies have adopted the Blockchain movement and are carving out space for themselves. Some of the patent leaders include Accenture Global Solutions, Bank of America Corporation, Blockchain ASICs LLC, Civic Technologies, International Business Machines (IBM), SAP SE, The Toronto-Dominion Bank, Verizon Patent and Licensing, Winklevoss IP, and others. All these companies are leveraging the new technology, which is based on managing data. We all have heard that “big data” is the wave, the currency of the future. However, data/information has always existed. Everything around us is data in one form or another.

While Blockchain is the new kid on the block, the technology is a combination, an evolution of technology that existed before, with a twist added from Satoshi. One of the first peer-to-peer systems was implemented in the form of Napster, a music-sharing application, by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker. They played the role of the John the Baptist, signaling the call that something new was coming. Well, it’s here. How will the world respond?

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