In brief

  • IBM is partnering with blockchain patent firm IPwe to turn patents into NFTs.
  • The tokenized intellectual property will be made "commercially available" in Q4 2021.

IPwe, a platform for the world’s IP ecosystem, today announced that it plans to begin representing corporate patents as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), in collaboration with major computer company IBM

The tokenization of intellectual property will, per the announcement, help position patents to be easily sold, traded, commercialized or otherwise monetized. In other words, turning patents into NFTs makes it easier to have those patents reach the market. 

“The use of NFTs to represent patents will help create completely new ways to interact with intellectual property,” said IPwe CEO Erich Spangenberg. 


Non-fungible tokens are cryptographically-unique digital assets that can be associated with digital content such as images or video—but any kind of content can be attached to an NFT, in this case patents.

Intellectual property has traditionally been difficult to manage, value and transact, and the introduction of NFTs into this space is expected to change that. Spangenberg added, “This is expected to benefit not only large enterprises that have significant intellectual property, but it will bring new opportunities to small and medium enterprises and even individual intellectual property owners.” 

The NFTs will be stored and shared on the IPwe Platform, hosted by IBM Cloud, and powered by IBM’s blockchain. 

IPwe and IBM

This isn’t the first time that IPwe and IBM have worked together. 

IPwe and IBM have worked together for the last three years to apply IBM’s blockchain experience to the IPwe Platform. “IBM has a long history of leadership in intellectual property and the application of artificial intelligence and blockchain in business,” said Jason Kelley, general manager of global strategic partnerships at IBM Services. 


Kelley also added that the firm’s work with IPwe is “another example of our collaboration with leading innovators to drive outcomes powered by blockchain capabilities and digital assets that have the potential to transform entire industries.” 

IPwe expects tokenized intellectual property on the platform to be “commercially available” in Q4 of this year.

A self-described "patent troll", Spangenberg made a fortune of $150 million through amassing and litigating tech patents at his previous firm, IPNav; in a five-year span he sued over 1,500 companies for patent infringements. After discovering blockchain technology through Bitcoin, he founded IPwe, which maintains a blockchain-based registry of IP and uses machine learning to value patents' worth.

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