Walmart and Bank of America Independently Pursue Blockchain Technology Patents
It’s been a big week for blockchain patent law.
“A registration-based user-interface architecture includes a retail shopping facility operated on behalf of an enterprise having a plurality of physically-discrete items disposed therein that are offered for retail sale. A control circuit maintains a record (for example, in a blockchain ledger) of a particular customer’s purchase of a particular one of these items and also provides an opportunity to that particular customer to resell that particular item via a sales platform operated on behalf of the enterprise.”
Walmart is considering using this technology to power a consumer marketplace, where second-hand items are tracked via a combination of IoT devices and a secure blockchain ledger. Ultimately, such a system would enable a more transparent method of valuing products, improving the sale transaction process.
Walmart has been actively accumulating blockchain-related patents over the last year. Recently, the company filed a patent that could potentially be applied to automated delivery cars or trucks connected via blockchain.
On May 22, Bank of America (BAC) received a patent for technology that enables a party to control access to certain aspects of a permissioned blockchain network. The patent cites the usage of “security tokens,” which are different from the tokens that represent physical assets or securities, as a means to grant access to information contained in a particular block.
“A means for managing security and access to resources associated with blocks/sub-components of a distributed validating network, such as a blockchain network. Tags are created that can be applied to blocks so that a designated entity/user can locate the block though presentation of keywords associated with the tag. Additionally, a security token is generated that is assigned or otherwise provided to the designated entity/user which is configured to grant the designated entity access to resources in the block.”
“Further, logic may be defined and applied to either the tag, the block and/or the security token that provides control over the access granted to the designated entities/users. The logic may define the period of time for which a designated entity/user is granted access to the block and/or the block’s resources or the logic may define an amount of access granted to the designated entity/user.”
Ultimately, this technology would allow for better accounting of information storage and internal access at the bank.
Walmart and Bank of America are not the only established groups that are pursuing blockchain technology. Amazon (AMZN) and Paypal (PYPL) have been very active in securing blockchain-related patents. Even the U.S. Postal Service has filed a patent to leverage the blockchain to improve its delivery and identification systems.
While many tout the cryptocurrency movement as a means to decentralized and upend the establishment, it is growing increasingly apparent that the most practical applications of the blockchain are in the augmentation of established, centralized businesses.