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Block Chaining: Intellectual Property

In the era of digitalization, where technological advancements have been controlling and dominating every sector of the industry, we can see the newer advancement in the form of blockchain technology. Virtual digital currency which is otherwise referred to as Cryptocurrency is functionalized by blockchain technology. The underlining principles of Blockchain is decentralization and elimination of the intermediaries and regulation through algorithms and cryptographic techniques. The superimposition of blockchain technology in the field of Intellectual Property can lead to the generation of an efficient system with a higher level of security for the rights of the owners of Intellectual property.

What is blockchain?

It is a collection of records that are linked with each other strongly resistant to alterations and are protected using cryptography. Hashing algorithms are used instead of third parties. All the hashes are unique and thus there cannot be any misinterpretation. All the relevant data is automatically digitally collected in a ledger. This is a permanent way of storing the records in the ledger which would help improve the protection in the field of intellectual property.

Smart contracts

"Smart contracts" were first suggested in the early 1990s as a type of computerized transaction protocol that implements a contract's provisions.

The concept of smart contracts was first suggested in the late 90s, it is a type of automated transaction protocol which implements the terms of the contract. The contract is implemented automatically when the specific criterion is fulfilled. Smart contracts are developed by blockchains which are supported later by computer programs. They have programs linked with each other which are on basis of logical links between the provisions of the contract. The smart contract technology when adapted in intellectual property allows automatic third-party free transactions, thereby being economically efficient and less time-consuming. These programs are strongly resistant to alterations and are easily trackable and enforceable.

IPR and blockchain

The interlink between intellectual property and blockchain could improvise both industries, blockchain technology could be used in intellectual property for its efficient functioning and regulation. Blockchain systems if introduced in the IP industry could enhance security, being in transparency and thus it would be easy to main records of various transactions without the bureaucratic hassle. Nevertheless, blockchain technology would make the process of registration economically efficient and faster.

Blockchain technology provides a platform for intellectual property to enhance its protection and registration by providing a cost-effective and faster method. Implementing blockchain technology in intellectual property allows tamper-proof evidence for copyright and other IP ownership, registration of intellectual property, controlling and tracking registered and unregistered intellectual property, providing evidence of first use, establishing agreements or licenses through smart contracts, etc.

Blockchain and copyright

In India, Copyright protection is provided to original artistic, literary, and dramatic works. Copyright protection exists from the time the author creates the work, registration is not mandatory to claim copyright protection on works. In the usual scenario establishing the date of creation of the work is difficult, implementing blockchain technology in copyright would aid in providing solid evidence of first use. The ledger would prove to be a permanent electronic register to have records of the property. This would lead to easy identification of the true and first author of any work and increase the authenticity in the domain of copyrights. As smart contracts are self-executory in nature ensuring the performance of the contract would be easier with the technology as there would be instant cash inflow when the purpose of the contract is fulfilled.

Blockchain and trademark

Trademarks help the services and goods be distinguished from other competitors. When blockchain technology is implemented in trademark protection, it would make the process of registering a trademark easier and less time-consuming. As there will be an automated register for keeping all the records, it would be useful for the effective delivery of justice for matters related to infringement. In the matters of trademark claims of identifying the ownership, the execution of licenses and assignment, revocation of any registered trademark or if there is a deceptively similar nature of any mark, decisions could be taken diligently. As, the trademark legislation also provides protection to well-known marks, with this technology establishing whether the mark is well-known and has goodwill attached to it in the market would be easier.

Advantages of blockchain and way forward

The non-tamper able nature of blockchain enhances the security of the rights of the IP owners. Blockchain technology can be substantially used to furnish evidence of ownership. Smart contracts in cumulation with intellectual property rights would ensure enhanced security, especially in assignments and licensing.

The introduction of blockchain in the field of IP would mean greater transparency, lesser bureaucratic work, lower maintenance cost, and more resilience to corruption. IP owners can benefit from this technology by safeguarding their rights and explaining their IP works. Blockchain could be used as a technology-based IP registry where the owners of Intellectual property can keep their certificates in hashed forms and could also benefit from the platform to receive royalties from assignment and licensing. With blockchain technology, there can be strict regulation of the IP industry, and tracing illegal, unauthorized uses of IP works would be easier.

At the outset, the idea of introducing blockchain IP seems to bring in a major revolution. However, there are many areas that are still underprepared, such as the high cost and extreme energy consumption, and the compatibility of technological evidence. The legal stance pertaining to a blockchain is not yet clear. In India, there is no legislation specific to blockchain technology and there are debates on security, privacy, and liability. Currently, the Indian Information Technology Act, of 2000 provides legal identification to blockchain technology as it regulates all electronic transactions and communications.

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