13 January 2022

IP trends for 2022: Blockchain and non-fungible tokens

The second article in our ‘IP trends for 2022’ series on innovation and technology focuses on blockchain, its patentability and an increasing interest in non-fungible tokens.

Blockchain has been a growing area for a few years now – from both an IP perspective and a commercial perspective. With this, an increasing number of patent applications for blockchain related inventions have been filed around the world. Despite the large number of patent filings in this area, there is still a dearth of blockchain-specific case law and some lack of clarity over exactly what is patentable when it comes to blockchain technology, and to what degree.

As filings progress through the various international patent offices, it is inevitable that specific case law will appear and we might well see some important decisions in the next year. Indeed, as we reported recently, the Australian Patent Office has been one of the first to tackle this technology and has seemingly decided that blockchain is a patentable technology. Moreover, this amenability to blockchain, as we reported here, seems to be shared by a number of other patent offices, and therefore, similar decisions might reasonably be expected elsewhere. If such affirmatory decisions are issued by other offices, we might expect the number of blockchain filings to keep increasing over the coming years.

Patent applications of course go hand in hand with developments in technology and in commercial focus. In this regard, we expect that a particular area of interest in the coming year will be non-fungible tokens, which have moved into the spotlight in the past year.