The hype surrounding cryptocurrency—think Bitcoin, Ethereum and an ever-expanding list of niche altcoins—has gone mainstream. As with any new industry, over the past five years there has been a rapid increase in applications for blockchain and cryptocurrency-related patents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) by entrepreneurs and financial institutions alike, looking to monetize some part of this technology. Notably, higher levels of patenting activity bring nonpracticing entities, aka patent trolls, out of the woodwork. In March 2017, the Blockchain Intellectual Property Council was formed by the Chamber of Digital Commerce to, among other things, play defense against the trolls. We explore the origin, developments and ownership of blockchain technology further below.
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