A new paradigm for intellectual property assets?

Nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, are digital data of the possession of property. The asset varieties mostly related to NFTs are digital property, resembling art work like memes, GIFs, or gaming characters or properties. Property represented by NFTs, nonetheless, could also be digital, bodily, tangible or intangible. Examples of asset varieties which have been transferred or which have had their possession recorded using NFTs embrace sports activities memorabilia, copyrights in music, art work and actual property. Mental property property and, particularly, the possession and switch of possession of patents may additionally be recorded and transferred as NFTs.

Associated: Nonfungible tokens from a authorized perspective

The possession of actual property could also be recorded in a registry of deeds, the possession of patents could also be recorded in america Patent and Trademark Workplace (USPTO), and the possession of written works or music could also be recorded within the Library of Congress by way of the copyright system. As a result of related programs for recording possession don’t exist for asset varieties resembling collectibles, video clips, memes, digital avatars or innovations which can be deemed ineligible for patentability resulting from being too summary, there’s a enormous profit to using NFTs. Nonetheless, even property which have current programs for recording possession, such because the USPTO for patents, should profit from utilizing NFTs to help potential patrons, sellers or licensees in understanding the proprietor and worth of a selected patent.

NFTs and blockchain expertise

The possession of NFTs are recorded on a blockchain, a distributed digital ledger that gives for immutable data of transactions and for transfers of possession of property through software program code often called good contracts. Blockchain expertise is finest often called the expertise for recording transactions involving cryptocurrencies, resembling Bitcoin (BTC).

Associated: How the NFT market leveraged blockchain tech for explosive progress

The recording of NFTs on a blockchain offers a number of advantages. On a blockchain, info resembling NFTs is recorded in a sequence of blocks of knowledge of a sure dimension, relying on the blockchain implementation. When the quantity of data to be recorded is ample to fulfill the block dimension requirement of the blockchain, a brand new information block is created and appended to the tip of the present chain of blocks within the blockchain. The brand new information block features a cryptographic code, known as a cryptographic hash, generated from a mix of knowledge related to the knowledge within the new block and the cryptographic hash of the previous block. This renders the knowledge within the blocks of a blockchain safe. If a malicious social gathering had been to try to change info in a block of a blockchain — for instance, an possession document included in an NFT — this might lead to a change to the cryptographic hash of the related block. This transformation would lead to mismatches or adjustments to the cryptographic hashes within the subsequent information blocks, offering a sign of the unauthorized change to the recorded info.

Additional, the information blocks in a blockchain, collectively known as the blockchain ledger, will not be recorded in a centralized location. Slightly, the blockchain ledger is recorded in a number of totally different laptop programs, sometimes of customers who’ve carried out a transaction through the blockchain or who created a number of new blocks on the chain. The dearth of a single centralized location for the blockchain ledger additional will increase the safety of the knowledge recorded on the blockchain. A malicious social gathering couldn’t hack a single laptop system to change the data in a blockchain as a result of the ledger on that single laptop system would then not match the ledgers recorded on different laptop programs within the community. If there was a sign of a change in info beforehand recorded on the blockchain — for instance, resulting from a change in a cryptographic hash of a number of blocks — the ledgers of a number of or all the totally different programs during which the ledger was recorded may very well be in comparison with decide which system had been compromised. Thus, recording possession, assignments, and prior gross sales or licenses of property, resembling patents, as NFTs on a blockchain would profit potential patrons, sellers and potential licensees by offering an unalterable public document.

Patents and NFTs

At the moment, there are not any necessities for recording assignments or gross sales of patents with america Patent and Trademark Workplace, so it’s typically tough to know the proprietor of a patent. It’s also tough to judge the worth of a patent as a result of the phrases of gross sales or licenses of patents are hardly ever made public. If a patent was bought or licensed through NFTs, a document of the sale and present proprietor or licensee of the patent could be immediately out there to the general public. To additional profit potential patrons, sellers or licensees, the gross sales or licensing of patents through an NFT may very well be automated by way of good contracts.

The primary NFT was created in Might 2014, however NFTs didn’t acquire a lot public consideration till 2017 when Larva Labs launched a mission dubbed CryptoPunks for the commerce of cartoon characters on the Ethereum blockchain and Dapper Labs launched the CryptoKitties gaming mission, which allowed gamers to buy, commerce and “breed” digital cats.

The market related to the gross sales of NFTs grew considerably in 2021, with an estimated gross sales worth of greater than $250 million. Notable NFT gross sales embrace: an algorithm-generated pixel artwork picture of an alien from the CryptoPunks mission in March 2021 for $7.57 million; Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first-ever tweet from 2006 in March 2021 for $2.9 million; and lots of extra. In one of many highest-priced NFT gross sales so far, the public sale home Christie’s bought a digital art work, “Everydays: The First 500 Days,” by the digital artist Mike Winkelman, also called Beeple, for $69.3 million in March 2021. NFTs could now be created and bought on digital public sale websites or by conventional auctioneers, resembling Christie’s.

Creating an NFT-based market for asset varieties, resembling patents, will take time and would require patentees to undertake a brand new paradigm with respect to recording patent possession, transfers and licensing. Plenty of preliminary work could be required to create the digital representations of possession of current patents as NFTs. Difficulties could come up if transfers or licenses had been made however not recorded on the blockchain, thus creating conflicting data of possession; nonetheless, work on such a market has begun. For example, IBM has introduced plans to work with the patent market IPwe to create a digital market to document and supply for the switch of possession of patents through NFTs. True Return Methods LLC has begun the primary public sale for a patent within the type of an NFT, appropriately for a patent directed to blockchain expertise.

This text doesn’t comprise funding recommendation or suggestions. Each funding and buying and selling transfer entails threat, and readers ought to conduct their very own analysis when making a call.

The views, ideas and opinions expressed listed here are the writer’s alone and don’t essentially mirror or characterize the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Greg Gerstenzang is a companion at Boston mental property legislation agency Lando & Anastasi LLP. Greg works with shoppers of all sizes to leverage their mental property by way of strategic patent portfolio growth and administration primarily within the chemical and materials sciences, laptop expertise and software program, shopper merchandise, electronics, and mechanical and industrial engineering industries. He prosecutes patent functions domestically and overseas in a variety of applied sciences from water therapy to stable state physics. Greg’s mental property legislation observe focuses on patents, post-grant assessment course of and strategic counseling. Greg is an lively member of the MIT Membership of Boston, the Cornell Membership of Boston, the Boston Bar Affiliation and the Boston Patent Legislation Affiliation.