More than half of U.S. blockchain patents are owned by blockchain-specific developers, while 20% are owned by financial institutions, led by Bank of America (see pie chart below).
Number three, Fidelity, has about a third as many patents as BofA. Number two, MasterCard, some 50% fewer.
13% are owned by traditional technology businesses, led by IBM, which owns more than three times the next biggest tech holder, Dell.
This is according to the findings of a report prepared by Envision IP, an IP law firm specializing in patent research, as reported in the April Managing Intellectual Property.
According to another report, China claims to have more than twice as many companies than the U.S. in the blockchain top 100 patentees.
Outside of IBM, which supports many banks, leading technology companies like Google, Intel and Microsoft have been slow to pursue blockchain patents. MasterCard, which has 27 blockchain patents, the same number as IBM, is dubious about the reliability of crypto-currencies, such as bitcoin. This 2014 video explains some of the credit card business’ reservations. The firm’s thinking may have evolved.
MasterCard processes over $4 Trillion ($4,000,000,000,000) in more than 38 billion transactions each year, reports The Art of Not Being Governed, a bitcoin blog. On each of those 38 billion transactions, MasterCard assesses fees to the merchant, accepting the payment. These range from .11% to .80% of the total, plus various fixed amount fees for each transaction. All told, it averages out to about 2% of every transaction.
“Bitcoin, on the other hand, charges little to no fees, and as such, poses a direct threat to MasterCard’s business,” says the blog, which reports that in 2014 someone moved $80 million on the Bitcoin network for a fee of $.04 (4 cents).
For the full Envision IP report, go here.
Image source: Managing Intellectual Property; Envision IP