USPTO Reveals Blockchain Patent Applications from Six Tech Giants

The USPTO has published blockchain-related patent applications coming from six major technological companies.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published on Thursday blockchain-related patent applications submitted by IBM, General Electric (GE), Accenture, SAP, Sony, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development (HPE). All of the applications were filed last year. Here is a brief overview of the inventions that might become active patents:

  • IBM – the US-based tech giant is seeking to get a patent for its system called “secured event monitoring leveraging blockchain.” The method aims to improve data security in computer systems. According to the description:

“On a computer system or network, data may be monitored for many different purposes. Data monitoring may identify problems, observe conditions or track metrics by logging the events of a given computer system or network. Securing a data log using monitor security protocols may be accomplished with different levels of security, ranging from low security to high security, and have various combinations of hardware and software configurations.”

The problem is that low-security systems might leave the door open for hackers while high-security levels might limit the access to the event logs. Thus, IBM proposes a new system of security configuration that will both protect the monitored system from hacking attacks and will provide access to alter the event logs.

The application was filed on January 27, 2017.

  • General Electric – GE wants approval for its invention called “ephemeral blockchain data structure.” The invention seeks to address the issue of large consumption of storage space and transaction costs as the blockchain network grows, especially by eliminating some intermediary data that was used during block generation. 
  • Sony Corporation – Japanese electronics and gaming products provider Sony filed on November 21 a patent application for its “electronic node and method for maintaining a distributed ledger.” The system refers to an electronic device for maintaining a blockchain network.

Sony also applied with the European Priority Patent Application for this patent.

  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development (HPE) – HPE seeks for approval for its invention called “blockchain hash value recomputation.” The system can replace an existing hash function of a blockchain to a new hash function that was proven to be more reliable and secure. Thus, a blockchain network can update its hash function thanks to HPE’s method.

As the company says, the used hash function is essential to the integrity of the data recorded on a DLT. Some popular hash functions used for DLT systems are SHA-256 (used for Bitcoin), RIPEMD-256, and SHA3-256. Even though these hash functions look secure today, in the future, they might become subject to cryptographic vulnerabilities that cannot be anticipated today. Thus, updating the hash function without fundamentally touching the whole blockchain will become necessary at some point.

The application was filed on January 27, 2017.

  • Accenture – professional services company Accenture wants approval for its system called “hardware blockchain acceleration.” It ensures improvements in the hardware and software units related to a blockchain, which can speed up processing and increase the security level of transactions.

The patent application was filed on December 5, 2017. Accenture also filed an application for the same patent in Europe.

  • SAP – German software developer SAP filed a patent application on January 30, 2017, for its system called “blockchain-based subscription management.” The system leverages blockchain to bring innovations for managing subscriptions and various services, such as telecommunications subscriptions and services like network access to network providers (through verification of access), payments (like management of prepaid balances), and value added services.

In mid-July of this year, the USPTO published six blockchain patent applications from IBM in the span of one week.

Other companies mentioned above are also active at implementing DLT. Last week, we revealed Accenture’s application for a patent to use blockchain in the shipping processes.

Last year, HPE launched its own blockchain service aimed at enterprises.