Short after the emergence of blockchain technology, many banks and financial institutions, renowned technology companies such as IBM, startups and even some social networking companies have been developing and commercializing a variety of valuable technology applications. These innovations are expected to be highly protected. According to figures, more than 20,628 patent families related to 14,035 blockchain patent applications have been registered until the end of April 2019, a number that is noteworthy since the first applications were filed in 2013.
The patent filing process in blockchain domain shows an explosive growth since 2015. Excluding patents not published since 2017 due to the 18-month deadline for publishing patent applications, the annual growth rate from 2013 to 2018 is 285.6%. China and the US have been pioneering with 49% and 18% of all patents filed in the field. This volume of patent applications indicates that these two countries are not only major sources of innovation in the blockchain field, but also major markets for this technology.
More interesting in the report is the leading position of South Korea in blockchain patent granting rates. With a granting rate of 54%, South Korea has surpassed strong rivals such as Japan (17%) and the United States (16%) in the blockchain domain. At a rate of almost 1%, China has a relatively large gap with the leading countries. South Korea's 4% share of filed patents with 54% granted patents represents a kind of fast patent procedure in the small but very agile South Korean market.
It should be noted that, unlike South Korea, which is keen to use emerging banking technologies, some of the most prominent players in the field have filed numerous patents without seriously considering the commercialization of these technologies. One example is the US bank BofA, a global leader in blockchain in terms of the number of patents filed. The plethora of blockchain patents the bank has filed has provided a vague perspective for experts in terms of the actual use and commercialization, making questions on the actual intent of the bank and other similar entities.