Revealed: the countries leading the race for blockchain patents

An exclusive data analysis by Alian Xie and Tianhan Wang of Derwent Services at Clarivate Analytics shows the jurisdictions where blockchain patent filings are heating up and which patent office has the highest grant rate

Bitcoin has once again attracted attention because of its recent revival. As the earliest application of blockchain technology, it is facing an uncertain future due to its wild fluctuations; however, other blockchain applications are emerging quietly. Some of them could potentially have profound effects on people's lives.

In the first part of a two-part series, this article will answer the following questions:

  • How many blockchain patents are there?
  • What are the trends in blockchain patent applications?
  • Which countries/regions in the world have the most blockchain innovations? Which markets are the hottest?
  • Which country has the highest patent grant rate?

How many blockchain patents are there?

Up to 30th April 2019, there were 10,628 Derwent patent families in the blockchain field, corresponding to 14,035 patent applications.

What are the trends in blockchain patent applications?

The earliest blockchain patent application appeared in 2013. Since 2015, patent applications have shown an explosive growth trend. Even though the patents filed between 2017 and 2019 have not been fully published (the maximum publication lag is usually 18 months), the compound annual growth rate in the period 2013 to 2018 has reached 285.6%.

Which countries or regions have most blockchain innovations? Which markets are the hottest?

The doughnut chart on the left side shows that the innovations originated from China and the United States account for 62% and 22% of the world respectively (84% in total), while Japan and South Korea have lower levels of blockchain innovations, indicating that China and the United States are the leaders.

On the right side, the chart shows patent filings in China (49%) and the United States (18%) combined represent two-thirds of all attempts to secure blockchain patent protection.

Taken together, this illustrates that China and the US are not only the primary sources of blockchain innovation but are also the primary markets.

Which jurisdiction has the highest patent grant rate?

Since patents in the blockchain field are relatively new, most of them are still in the patent examination stage. According to the current patent grant data from the IP5 offices -China, the United States, the EPO, Japan and South Korea - South Korea has the highest rate of patent grant (54%), followed by Japan (17%) and the United States (16%). This could be because many of the patent publications in these countries have B1 kind code, where no previously published pre-grant publications exist. Therefore, many patents filed in Korea, Japan and the US in this dataset were already granted patents when published.

Invention patents in China and at the EPO must be published before substantive examination. At present, the vast majority of invention patents are still in the examination stage and few have been granted.

The second part of this article will reveal the top companies in the blockchain field, and identify the technology and application hot spots.


The database and tools used in this article are as follows:

Data: Derwent World Patents Index (DWPI)

Search platform: Derwent Innovation

Data analysis: Derwent Data Analyzer

Patent search strategy: The following keywords and/or classification codes are used to build the search strategies, and the obvious noise is removed by manual review to obtain the basic dataset of this analysis.

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