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Alibaba Block chain patent(s)?

2 March 2018

A recent article lists China as the “leading country for Blockchain patents with Alibaba” on top.

It appears this article relates to China and to published applications.  Patents are territorial, does this article translate to the U.S.?  What really is a “block chain patent” – the core block chain distributed ledger technology is public domain?

In the U.S., Alibaba-issued block chain patents search results were nil.

 

Searching PCT Patentscope detected 11 pending applications.  In later posts, we shall summarize various PCT Applications.

 

While Alibaba has acquired a large number of U.S. Patents, none appear to be directly in the block chain technology space.  Instead, U.S. Patent No. 9,530,126 represents a common theme of transaction-related patents that could readily integrate into a distributed ledger recordation system.

U.S. Patent No. 9,530,126 (“the ‘126 Patent”) is entitled SECURE MOBILE PAYMENT PROCESSING.  The ‘126 Patent solves problems with a mobile payment device disconnected from a central server.  While the ‘126 patent never mentions block chain, cryptocurrency or a distributed ledger system, this offers a solution for payments using a local cryptocurrency wallet.

 

Fig. 1 illustrates the payer terminal 102 communicating directly with the recipient terminal 104, the recipient terminal 104 then communicating with the payment server 106.  The payment server 106 has payer terminal 102 account information and encryption details.

 

The payer 102 and the recipient 104 connect, exchange details, the payer 102 encrypts transaction information, recipient 104 verifies and forwards to the payment server 106.  Upon decryption, server 106 can then authorize/validate the transaction.  When validated, the recipient 104 and payer 102 then decrypt and finalize the transaction.

 

The solution eliminates the requirement for both payer and payee to be concurrently network-connected.  In cryptocurrency, this opens the door for more static digital wallet options utilizing the payee (recipient) as the intermediary.

 

Yes, the ‘126 Patent is silent as to cryptocurrency or block chain technology.  But you already have data encryption between all the parties, you have electronic transactions, and you have the payment server 106 sitting on the network.  Integrating the financial accounting between the payer 102 and recipient 104 into a block chain appears a logical next step.

 

Back to the original premise of this post : the article notes Alibaba leading filings in China, this claim does not seem to translate to the U.S.  Based on PCT filing timelines though, we could see a wave of Alibaba block chain patent applications entering the U.S. Patent system with 30-month priority claims dating back to when Bitcoin was still affordable.

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