As I see it the blockchain is a gift to mankind by an unknown person (or persons) going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. Nobody owns the cleverest idea since sliced bread, but software patents could be the wrench-in-the-works.
That state of affairs wont last long. Here is a sample of opinions on what’s to come, some good some really bad. Here is what some have to say on this:
Economist, Jan 12th 2017: A rush to patent the Blockchain is a sign of the technology’s promise. Financial firms and assorted start-ups are rushing to patent the technology that underlies bitcoin
Reuters, March 2, 2017: A computer scientist and an online gambling fugitive have joined forces in a land grab for intellectual property related to Bitcoin and the blockchain.
Bloomberg, Dec 21, 2016: Big Banks Are Stocking Up on Blockchain Patents. In the headlong rush to revolutionize modern finance, Blockchain enthusiasts are overlooking one potentially costly problem: their applications, built on open-source code, may actually belong to someone else.
Fortune, Dec 01, 2016: Are Blockchain Patents a Bad Idea?
Coindesk,September 24, 2016: There is a patent land grab developing in the Blockchain space that could potentially make doing business more challenging for those who want to build upon the open-source technology in the future.
Bitcoin Magazine, Apr 10, 2017: More than 70 participants from corporations like Microsoft and IBM, financial institutions, technology companies, start-ups, academia and legal experts met recently with the Chamber of Digital Commerce to hash out a strategy going forward to deal with patent issues including the exponential growth in patent troll
companies in the Blockchain sector.
Law 360, March 10, 2017: The search conducted for this article consisted of searching for all U.S. patent filings that contained the words “blockchain,” “bitcoin” or “distributed ledger,” that were filed between Oct. 31, 2008, and Feb. 16, 2017. The search returned 879 filings that mention bitcoin, blockchain or distributed ledger.
I expect a lot of patents coming out of the woodwork as enterprises discover and adopt the blockchain.