China dominated the global rankings for blockchain patent applications.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its subsidiary Alipay amassed 1505 blockchain patent petitions.
Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin dismissed the importance of the rankings.
China took the lead in blockchain-based patent applications in 2019, according to a joint report from Chinese outlet IPR Daily and global patent database IncoPat. The report revealed that China has managed to secure seven of the top ten spots—including the first, second, and third—in the global ranks for blockchain patent applications.
In first place is Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its payments subsidiary Alipay, with a massive 1,505 blockchain patent petitions. Close behind it in third place is the Chinese conglomerate, Tencent, with 724.
Fourth is—somewhat unsurprisingly—nChain. The Antigua and Barbuda-based blockchain firm has a long history of touting its many patents.
Vitalik Buterin questions rankings
However, not everyone is convinced the rankings actually mean anything. Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin took aim at countries—and companies—who 'brag' about their blockchain patents.
If you're bragging about how many "blockchain patents" your country/company/organization has, you don't understand blockchains.
Nevertheless, Buterin was chided for this remark, with one Twitter user arguing that while public blockchains aren't necessarily patentable, private and hybrid blockchains may well be.
No, public blockchains don't need patents as everything is public.
However, hybrid blockchains (used to connect private chains and legacy systems to public chains) very much do, as the code isn't public and therefore must be protected, for smaller entities especially.