From Alice to Bob: The Patent Eligibility of Blockchain in a Post-CLS Bank World
Every year the World Economic Forum publishes a list of the top ten emerging technologies. This list of breakthrough technologies has included 3-D printing, self-healing biomimicry materials, and human microbiome therapeutics. In 2016, the financial technology Blockchain dominated the list. Over $1 billion was invested into Blockchain technology and major financial firms are actively exploring Blockchain innovation. As innovators enter the Blockchain space, they have pushed for patent protection. This Note examines whether Blockchain is patent eligible. Patent eligibility for business methods and software patents is determined under the Supreme Court’s holding in Alice v. CLS Bank. The first section of this note discusses the technological aspects of Bitcoin and Blockchain. Blockchain was originally developed for the decentralized digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin: however, Blockchain is not tied to Bitcoin and possesses a variety of uses that could potentially revolutionize our financial system. The second section of this note discusses patent eligibility. The third section applies patent eligibility to Blockchain, discusses why Blockchain should be patent-eligible, and discusses how patent attorneys should draft Blockchain patents. The fourth section discusses the regulatory implications granting Blockchain patent-eligibility and this Note concludes by summarizing my overall thesis that Blockchain is patent-eligible.