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China Dominates 2020 Global Blockchain Patent Applications

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its payment subsidiary Alipay have once again been the most active patent filer pertaining to the blockchain technology, according to the latest report by IP-centric media IPRDaily and incoPat Research Center for Innovation Index.


Alibaba (Alipay) holds a commanding lead with a massive 1,457 blockchain patent petitions. Behind it in second place is Chinese conglomerate Tencent with 872. Another prestigious IT brand – Inspur, which focuses on cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, has climbed to the third place this year with 274 applications.

The report shows that China has taken the lead in blockchain patent petitions, with almost half (46) out of the top 100 active filers worldwide having Chinese provenance. U.S.-based enterprises account for 25%.

With the blockchain industry growing, filing patents has become a norm within the cryptocurrency and blockchain landscape.

Apart from cryptocurrency-based companies, giants in various sectors like Alibaba, IBM and Siemens have also taken the patent initiative; Legacy banks have also been active such as People’s Bank of China and Bank of America.

As blockchain related patents are turning up everywhere, the IP pertaining to blockchain technology is speeding up between giant corporations, smaller startups and legacy banks.

Data shows that the number of blockchain patent applications has increased significantly in the first half of 2020 despite the outbreak of coronavirus. According to official data, the number of blockchain patent applications filed by Alibaba (Alipay) in the first six months of 2020 has been close to that for the whole year of 2019.

The number of blockchain patent filings is not necessarily an indicator of real-world applications. However, the speed and effort of these companies, especially those Chinese enterprises in embracing blockchain technology over these years are startling.

Although there’re voices that blockchain patents are pointless as they go against the ethos of blockchain which is about openness and collaboration, some argued that while public blockchains aren’t necessarily patentable, private and hybrid blockchains may well be, and business-wise blockchain patents “are an essential ingredient for companies looking to reshape the financial services industry or spawn profitable cryptocurrency-related businesses,” as Bloomberg explains.

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