Although blockchain is frequently misunderstood, and despite the fact that many of its applications outside of the cryptocurrency realm remain theoretical, companies of all kinds are rushing to explore what this new technology has to offer. Countless startups are aiming to corner a small portion of the blockchain space with revolutionary applications of the distributed ledger technology. Even banks and other firms not previously directly involved in the tech space are exploring the possibilities in blockchain. It perhaps comes as no surprise, then, that some of the most ardent blockchain innovators are major tech operations. These companies have a direct interest and experience in the space, and they also have the tremendous resources available to dedicate staff, time, and money toward building new blockchain applications.
Recently, a report by iPR Daily indicated that two tech giants in particular have taken the lead when it comes to blockchain development, at least with regards to the number of blockchain-related patents they have secured. Alibaba (BABA) and IBM (IBM) are neck-and-neck, each holding close to 100 patents already.
Alibaba and IBM
Alibaba had 90 blockchain-related patents as of the end of August, while IBM was just behind with a total of 89, according to the report, cited by Coin Telegraph. Mastercard came in third place with 80 filings. Proving that banks are increasingly involving themselves in blockchain, Bank of America took the fourth place on the list with 53 patents.
While the report utilized information covering Asia, the EU, America, and elsewhere in the world, it seems clear that most of the blockchain patents are concentrated in China. In 2017, for instance, Chinese companies filed 225 applications for blockchain patents, while American companies only filed 91. This is all in spite of the fact that China's government has clamped down on cryptocurrencies, even as blockchain technology has proliferated there. Alibaba head Jack Ma exemplifies this stance as a business leader; he has previously expressed skepticism about digital currencies and has also discussed his great optimism for blockchain as a technology.
IBM may take over the top position at any time. The stalwart computer maker recently signed a 5-year, $740 million deal with the Australian government to integrate blockchain, among other technologies, into data security and automation.
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