Lately, blockchain technology and related technologies for the creation of distributed records are a hot topic; Many sectors are exploring the possibilities of these technologies and new applications of the block chain arise almost daily. However, how could these technologies be used in the context of the law and practice of intellectual property?
The chain of blocks, a kind of decentralized ledger, is best known for being the technology that supports Bitcoin, one of the most hot cryptocurrency today.
Blockchain: A technology that can change everything
This is the fundamental principle behind the chain of blocks or Blockchain , a technology that has the power to change forever our relationship with the digital world.
Imagine a text file with two columns, where in one column it puts an identifier (example “abc”) and in the other a number (example “34”). That is, “abc” corresponds to “34”. Now imagine that this file could be in thousands of duplicate computers, with the assurance that nobody can alter it to treason but when legitimately something must be altered, in a matter of seconds, all are synchronized.
Even if one of the thousands of computers disappeared from the network, nothing would happen. This is what Blockchain achieves and although its magic is much more complex and composed of more pieces such as cryptography, in essence that seeks: a distributed record resistant to synchronization and no need for trust between the members that comprise it. Something that took decades trying to solve and Bitcoin has achieved its creator, the unknown Satoshi Nakamoto .
Do you realize the relevance of this?
Think for a moment that all interaction that takes place online today is backed by a central authority that we trust.
It does not matter what you do since you are always trusting that someone is telling you the truth, whether it’s the bank showing you the balance of your accounts, whatsapp telling you that your message has been sent or your antivirus saying that everything is fine in your computer.
In fact, there is always the risk that some information provider is lying to you or is simply wrong.
That’s why internet security is nowadays a chaos in which practically all services can be hacked, manipulated or compromised .
And every time we entrust them with more personal information.
Bitcoin is digital money. But when we think of digital things we think of files that can be copied and pasted, like the photos of your vacations, a song or any other file you have on your computer. But Bitcoin is different because, imagine the grace of being able to copy and paste money, it would not make sense. That is why there is the blockchain, the accounting book. There are no bitcoins, there are no files that represent bitcoins, only an accounting book that manages to take incredible accounting of the entire financial system.
For the first time in history a book is being written collaboratively by thousands of parties. Imagine any great book, for example the bible for Christians or any other, written collaboratively, by consensus, without informative dictators saying what to put and what not. Imagine how good a transparent planet would be.
What does the chain of blocks have to say to all this?
It sounds incredible but thanks to the concept of distributed consensus you can create an incorruptible record of past and present events in the digital world.
Also, I would do this without compromising your privacy.
It can be recorded that the event in question has taken place and that it has been done correctly without specifying specific details about the type of event or the parties involved.
This explains why bitcoin has been used to carry out illegal transactions because, despite public and free access to the “ledger”, the privacy of its users is guaranteed if required.
How is built?
The chain of blocks is a record of all transactions that take place “packaged” in blocks that the miners are responsible for verifying.
Later they will be included in the chain once validated and distributed to all the nodes that make up the network ( currently, the chain of blocks occupies about 40 gigs ). .
Let’s look at each of these elements in detail:
A block is a set of confirmed transactions and additional information that has been included in the block chain.
Each block that is part of the chain (except the generator block, which starts the chain) consists of:
- An alphanumeric code that links to the previous block
- The “package” of transactions that it includes (whose number is determined by different factors)
- Another alphanumeric code that will link to the next block.
The block in progress what is trying is to find out with calculations the third point previously indicated. A code that follows certain rules to be valid and can only be removed by testing without stopping.
But how are these blocks generated?
The miners are dedicated computers / chips that provide computational power to the bitcoin network to verify the transactions that take place.
Each time someone completes a block receives a reward in the form of bitcoins (currently 25) and / or for each transaction that is made.
A node is a computer / chip connected to the bitcoin network using software that stores and distributes an updated copy of the chain of blocks in real time .
Each time a block is confirmed and added to the chain, it is communicated to all the nodes and it is added to the copy that each one stores.
One of the biggest curiosities that has the bitcoin protocol is that each unit is not a file as such that is sent as if it were a movie or song, in the style of a P2P protocol such as BitTorrent.
Actually, what is produced is a record of the change of ownership of a certain amount of bitcoins in the chain of blocks.
Smart contracts and electronic rights management
In the context of the block chain, the concept of “smart contracts” is often cited. Since some solutions based on the block chain can host, execute and monitor contractual codes, these “intelligent contractual functions” could be of interest for the electronic management of rights and other IP transactions.
Smart contracts could be used to establish and enforce IP agreements, such as licenses, and facilitate the transfer of payments in real time to holders of IP rights; “Intelligent information” about the IP rights of a protected content, such as a song or an image, could be encoded in digital format (in a music or image file). That these ideas are rapidly becoming generalized is demonstrated by the recent launch by Kodak of an image rights management platform based on a chain of blocks and its own cryptocurrency.
Who owns the block chain?
In recent years, the promise of blockchain technology has led to the submission of numerous patent applications for inventions related to such technology. Many of the patent applications were initially filed by banks and financial institutions, but with the popularization of blockchain technology, applications are coming from a wide range of sectors.
Most patent applications related to blockchain technology claim methods to improve or use the original chain, disclosed by its mysterious inventor, known only by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto, in a white paper published in 2008. Some advocates of this technology also continue to advocate making it accessible with free access licenses to the source code or creating patent pools.
In addition, as with many promising new technologies, the block chain has also attracted patent hijackers, as noted, among others, by the Digital Chamber of Commerce, a US group that promotes the emerging industry behind chain technology. of blocks. This entity has recently created the Council for the Intellectual Property of Block Chains (BIPC, for its acronym in English), which aims to create a preventive strategy led by the sector to fight against the sequestration of patents related to block chains