Distributed ledger technology is arguably still in its nascent stage, as evidenced by the exponential growth of blockchain-related patent filings and high patent issuance rates since the inception of the technology and until these days. Figure 1 shows graphs illustrating yearly numbers of blockchain-related published US patent applications and issued US patents starting from 2011. Since, under US patent law, patent applications are published at approximately 18 months from the earliest priority date, the published application numbers for 2016 and 2017 have been extrapolated based on the data available at the time of writing. Based on the author’s analysis of published US applications and issued patents, the application pendency term (from application filing until patent issuance) is approximately three years, which is close to the lower end of pendency term distribution of all broadly defined computer-related inventions.

This article first appeared in the September 1, 2018, issue of Managing Intellectual Property (subscription required to access article).

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