Blockchain technology has the disruptive potential to transform many important industries from healthcare to finance. This technology is commonly associated with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Blockchain is one of the biggest new developments to have hit the industry in recent years. As blockchain technology is applied in an increasing number of technical fields, more and more inventions involving its use are proving to be patentable. This conference took an in-depth look at how the EPO deals with blockchain patent applications. The objective of this conference was to equip companies with the knowledge that can help applicants achieve IP protection for blockchain-based technologies more efficiently.

A blockchain is basically a type of distributed ledger that’s nearly impossible for people to hack or corrupt. A blockchain is not just a database, it is spread between different computers. Once a piece of data is written to a blockchain, it is stored there forever, which effectively makes it a trustworthy, hack-proof way to store interoperable data. This logic can boost many applications, from IoT solutions to smart contracts between smart devices. Wherever trustworthy interoperability is required, blockchain technology can be beneficial.

Held on 4 December 2018 in The Hague, this conference explored the IP protection – and in particular the patenting – of blockchain technology and of its applications in different technical fields. It also explained blockchain-related examination practice at the European Patent Office within the context of its well-established practices for patenting software / computer-implemented inventions.

Conference booklet (PDF) File


The presentations:

Marieke Flament, Managing Director, Circle, UK and Claire Wells, Legal & Business Affairs Director for Europe, Circle, UK: Blockchain technology and fields of application.


Georg Weber, Director ICT, EPO and Yann Ménière, Chief Economist, EPO: Rising to the challenge of searching blockchain and establishing its patent landscape.


Koen Lievens, Director ICT, EPO: How does the EPO deal with blockchain patent applications and what do we hear from our applicants?


Wang Xinyi, Expert Patent Examiner, CNIPA: How does the CNIPA (China National Intellectual Property Administration) deal with blockchain patent application?


Nobuyuki Taniguchi, Nakamura & Partners, JP: Evolution of Blockchain-related Patents in Japan.