IBM is turning patents into NFTs—says it’s a future ‘trillion-plus dollar market’

By Liam Frost

Tech giant IBM and intellectual property specialists at IPwe yesterday revealed the IPwe Platform and the Global Patent Marketplace, a blockchain-based platform that would allow tokenizing and trading patents in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

“The IPwe Platform is designed to transform the patent asset class by increasing transparency and promoting engagement, which we believe will encourage innovation,” said CEO Erich Spangenberg in the announcement.

IPwe + @IBM = #NFT marketplace for patents

“This is expected to benefit not only large enterprises that have significant #IntellectualProperty, but it will bring new opportunities to SMEs & even individual IP owners.” @SpangenBlog@mcuban @naval @tylerhttps://t.co/JVnARBfLTX pic.twitter.com/iUqaS47HTy

— IPwe (@ipwe_) April 20, 2021

While NFTs are at the core of the ongoing crypto-collectible craze, they have been used mostly to trade artworks, images, music, and other media so far. However, the concept itself—that of non-interchangeable unique tokens that represent digital certificates of authenticity and ownership—also perfectly suits the corporate patents.

Unlocking a $1 trillion market

According to Spangenberg, only 2-5% of patents translate into $180 billion of value in the market. However, traditional patents are “notoriously difficult to manage, value, and transact to be treated as a liquid asset.” In this light, NFTs represent an opportunity to make the sector much more transparent and cost-efficient, unlocking a $1 trillion—or more—market.

“The use of NFTs to represent patents will help create completely new ways to interact with IP [intellectual property]. This is expected to benefit not only large enterprises that have significant intellectual property, but it will bring new opportunities to small and medium enterprises and even individual IP owners,” Spangenberg explained.

At some point, all the history of the #patent will sit on the #NFT – not just who owns it, but who licenses it, who is commercializing it, who is financing it — this info will be used by researchers, analysts, business and others to confirm value. https://t.co/hUIfdSpED9 https://t.co/NuUfxJbBMe

— Erich Spangenberg (@SpangenBlog) April 20, 2021

Per the announcement, patent NFTs will be stored and shared on the IBM Blockchain-powered IPwe Platform, which also enables the Global Patent Marketplace. The latter would allow members of the ecosystem to engage and transact, buy, license, finance, sell, research, and commercialize patents.

“It starts with being able to analyze these huge amounts of data from patent information. Once that’s done, blockchain is a technology that allows you to tokenize these patents and make them available in capital markets,” said Shyam Nagarajan, executive partner at IBM Blockchain Services.

He added:

“Three to five years from now, it’s going to be a trillion-plus dollar market that you and I will be trading on.”

Trials of NFTs on IPwe’s Global Patent Marketplace are expected to start “soon.”

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