Blockchain Standard for IP Offices: The WIPO Blockchain Projects

The most recent developments in the WIPO Blockchain projects are described by Kat friend Dr. Julia Hugendubel.

Blockchain technology has, not surprisingly, drawn the interest of WIPO, which established the Blockchain Task Force in October 2018, led by the intellectual property offices of Australia and Russia. Despite the challenges of the coronavirus, the Task Force has continued its work in 2020. Already In June, the first webinar was held to introduce the WIPO Blockchain Whitepaper Project.

The latest report on the WIPO blockchain projects was presented by the Russian and Australian intellectual property offices during the Eighth Session of the Committee on WIPO Standards, held on 2 December 2020. At that meeting, the WIPO Secretary and its Blockchain Task Force discussed the new WIPO Standard and a whitepaper on blockchain technology for “the entire IP ecosystem”. This WIPO Standard is intended to support the application of blockchain technology for IP office (IPO) processes, including all types of IP rights and the entire IP lifecycle.

The principal motivation behind these WIPO blockchain projects are the possible advantages of blockchain applications for IPOs, such as cryptographic security, the possibility of automatizing processes through smart contracts, consensus building and collaboration opportunities. Additionally, WIPO regards the enhancement of trust as a benefit because, depending upon the respective blockchain, data on a blockchain cannot be changed (so-called "immutability").

Proposed scope of the WIPO blockchain projects

WIPO aims to provide guidance for IPOs and organisations looking to use blockchain for IP rights protection processes, including the management, storage, exchange and dissemination of IP data. Even a blockchain-based unique and global IP registry is being examined.

According to the WIPO Blockchain Whitepaper Project Team, the application of blockchain technology will allow for more efficient and harmonized cooperation among IPOs, and at the same time give public users better access to and possibilities of using IP information. Thus, the intention of the WIPO Standard is to simplify and accelerate the implementation of blockchain technology and promote interoperability within the IP ecosystem.

Also, the WIPO standardization process began to focus on a "decentralized verifiable identifier" (DID), which is seen as key for the IP community to use blockchain-based IP applications. As the name suggests, DID is a global and unique identifier to verify a decentralized digital identity. Examples are the DID of a corporation or an individual person. The idea is that, by using cryptography, it might allow identification without the need for a centralized authority.

Furthermore, the Blockchain Task Force's focus is to provide IP reference models that use blockchain technology and "guiding principles, common practice and use of terminology as a framework supporting collaboration, joint projects and proofs of concept." Moreover, the Blockchain Task Force is examining existing standards and reports from organizations such as the ISO, ITU and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

This work by the WIPO Blockchain Task Force, together with the new creation of subtasks in October 2020 ("Regulatory, Governance, Technical Standard, and Use-cases"), indicate that the development of the WIPO Standard remains an intensive ongoing process.


This development of using distributed ledger technology as an administrative instrument as well as evidence before court has already been established in various countries around the world. Indeed, China has even created internet courts, using artificial intelligence and blockchain (therefore also called "Smart Courts"). A next step might be that IPOs, as they adapt more and more to AI-based solutions, eventually in combination with distributed ledger technology will gradually become "Smart IPOs".

Although some critics question the additional value of blockchain technology beyond cryptocurrency, there is an increasing number of projects, beyond those under the auspices of WIPO from governments, IPOs and the private sector.

Thus, concrete blockchain projects are those such as created by the Australian IPO ("Smart Trademark" trust badge to use as an identifier in distributed ledger technologies) and by the EUIPO ("Counterfeit" to represent IP-protected products with a token, as an identical twin of the off-chain product, on a blockchain).

The increasing number of IPO projects and instances of adoption by the private sector make standardization essential. On the other hand, prominent voices from the blockchain scene, such as LUKSO founder and former Ethereum developer, Fabian Vogelsteller, warn that standardization at an early stage could hinder the development of distributed ledger applications.

Nevertheless, in our view, standardization among IPOs and IP holders might help with existing scalability issues, facilitate interoperability among blockchain applications and consequently make it more attractive to utilize the technology. Against this backdrop, the planned release of a blockchain standard for the entire IP ecosystem from the WIPO, with its 193 member states, would certainly be a major step.

[Merpel notes that, as announced at the event, the Whitepaper and the Blockchain Standard will be released on the WIPO website, though without indicating any specific time frame.]

Picture on the right is by ItunuIjila and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Photo on the left is byXoMEoX and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Blockchain Standard for IP Offices: The WIPO Blockchain Projects Blockchain Standard for IP Offices: The WIPO Blockchain Projects Reviewed by Neil Wilkof on Monday, December 07, 2020 Rating: 5

No comments:

All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here:

Powered by Blogger.