Why would you patent a blockchain protocol?
For Peerchain, the cross-blockchain protocol that powers Peer Mountain, I filed a patent on the overall technology before we took Peer Mountain out of stealth. That’s not all, I filed an IPBox with the Benelux IP Office on the Peerchain architecture way back in 2015.
Several people say that they don’t like the fact that Peer Mountain has a patent involved in the project. Their claim is that this goes against the open, decentralized spirit of the crypto and blockchain movement. I disagree and believe that many projects are in for a rude awakening in the coming years.
The main reason for filing the patent is to maintain and protect the Peerchain protocol. You see, there are several big name companies and smaller ones, such as nChain which is small but notorious, that are busily filing hundreds of patents on blockchain technology today. These patent trolls in waiting are going to cause massive misery to projects that could be deemed as infringing on these eventual patents. This means that many well intentioned projects with good technology may disappear because nChain or some other patent troll with ample resources will file a suit against them. nChain has made their intent quite clear in this respect and is patenting to prevent others from using technology that they wish to have exclusively in Bitcoin Cash. This will deplete the resources of many good projects and cause them to pivot or fail entirely.
I find that the best protection against patent trolls is to have established prior art, hence the 2015 filing, and to have a patent that makes it clear that our technology is not subject to some other patent. The Peerchain patent filing is designed to protect the future of the Peer Mountain ecosystem and ensure that we do not fall victim to patent trolls.
A second reason for filing the patent is that we intend to push Peerchain as a standard protocol, this may include submission as as an RFC to the IETF, contribution to the Apache Foundation, or a similar method of ensuring the long term maintenance of the Peerchain protocol, independent of Peer Mountain the company. This is a long a difficult process and having a patent in place will give material value to the contribution that we will eventually make to the independent body that will steward our protocol in the future.
In summary, the risk of not patenting the protocol are so great and the cost of patenting so small in the big picture, that only a fool would move a project such as Peer Mountain forward in the hopes that no patent troll or standards manipulating big-tech firm will have any interest in attacking a project with this potential once it gains significant ground.
Thank you for your interest and support!
Jed Grant, Founder and CEO, Peer Mountain