Banks, insurance companies, Silicon Valley corporations, national governments, healthcare executives, and others are eagerly exploring the potential of blockchain technology, the secure open-ledger system underlying the Bitcoin virtual currency.
The technology is thought by many to have the potential to enable trusted transactions of money, information, and other goods among stakeholders, including anonymous ones.Proponents of the technology believe is has the potential to revolutionize commerce among individuals, corporations, and nations.
Although Bitcoin technology was original released in the public domain, the magnitude of blockchain's economic potential has spurred a rush to register patents.
Among the most prolific filer of patents if Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist who claims to be the real creator of Bitcoin, an anonymous programmer who called himself "Satoshi Nakamoto."
Wright has shown the press folders of source code supporting his assertion that he was involved with the development of Bitcoin technology before it was made public in 2009.
He has filed more than 70 patent applications in the UK in recent months, and sources indicate he intends to file many more.
Wright is not the only one attempting to patent aspects of blockchain technology.Worldwide, 63 blockchain patent applications were filed last year, with another 27 filed thus far by corporations ranging from chip makers to banks.
Wright is backed in his patent initiative by Calvin Ayre, a wealthy Canadian entrepreneur who is under investigation in the United States for allegedly operating illegal online gambling services.