The fact that blockchain technology and its applications have influenced many sectors has been a driving force in researching the effects of this technology on the intellectual and industrial property ecosystem and creating models that support blockchain technology. There are benefits that both intellectual property and industrial property rights can derive from the use of blockchain technology. Blockchain increases the speed of transactions while maintaining high-quality data transfers. Thanks to features such as ensuring data integrity and security, blockchain has the potential to improve the connection between users and intellectual property rights and provide new services that will speed up procedures between intellectual property offices.
In terms of industrial property rights, blockchain can be used at many stages, from production to commercialization. Blockchain can be used to create robust and immutable evidence throughout the life cycle of an application for industrial property rights, including the review, objection, and cancellation stages. For example, with blockchain applications, the date and ownership of preparation documents can be proven in applying for patents, utility models, or other industrial property rights.
Original creative works are protected without the need for registration in any registry. However, rights holders can voluntarily register their works in copyright registries as proof of ownership. In this way, it can be determined that the protection is justified, and the management of copyrights is facilitated. Blockchain solutions can ease both users' access to digital content and the identification of actors involved in the process from the moment this content is created until it becomes publicly available.
Blockchain technologies can also facilitate the automation of processes and systems maintained by copyright collective management organizations (CMOs) and access to information by potential users. Apart from this, as has been brought to the agenda, especially in terms of NFTs, blockchain can facilitate the calculation of royalties to be obtained from users and the determination of how these royalties will be distributed among different rights holders.
It is also possible for intellectual and industrial property rights and related rights to be tokenized and used to finance artistic projects.
It is claimed that maximum benefit can be obtained from blockchain solutions if interoperability is facilitated. Using interoperable blockchain systems can facilitate collaboration among intellectual property offices and the management of international intellectual property systems. For this, it is critical for intellectual property offices and other stakeholders to understand and identify the effects of blockchain on the intellectual property ecosystem.
In this context, the work of The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is particularly pioneering. As a decentralized organization of the EU, EUIPO supports protecting the intellectual property rights of companies and individuals in the EU and beyond. It is stated that the office registers 13,000 EU trademarks and approximately 100,000 designs annually.
EUIPO has launched the first blockchain platform project of Europe to serve intellectual property offices and their customers better. The project aims to create a secure, distributed, and accessible registry that reflects the status of intellectual property rights as they change over time while preserving auditable and immutable transaction history. Since 2021, the intellectual property registry on the blockchain platform has established a fast and secure “Data Transfer Service” between IP offices and EUIPO TMview and DesignView, the largest, free, and online trademark and design database in the world. TMview and DesignView databases have been using blockchain since 2021 to ensure the fast and secure transmission of information regarding intellectual property rights.
With the inclusion of the competent authority of Portugal, the National Industrial Property Institute (INPI), to the blockchain records on July 31, 2023, more than 571 thousand trademarks and more than 58,000 designs were added to the blockchain network. Thus, the number of offices participating in the project in the European Union increased to 8. There are a total of 6,000,000 records representing brands and designs. This number is expected to rise exponentially by 2025.
It is also on the agenda that EUIPO will soon launch a decentralized blockchain authentication platform that can solve the global fraud problem.