Let The Bidding Begin: The First NFT Patent?

We’ve seen a wide variety of NFT releases this year. From trading cards, to immersive 3D graphic designs. From realistic still images, to real-life engagement opportunities with star meet & greets. One thing we seemingly haven’t seen yet, until now, is patents. However, aptly noted today on Twitter by sports, entertainment, and IP lawyer and University of Florida professor Darren Heitner, is what seems to be the very first patent auctioned off as an NFT.

The auction was originally listed in recent weeks by True Return Systems LLC and D. Tiller Law PLLC. The patent (US Patent #10,025,797) is centered around providing an “elegant solution for maintaining blockchain’s foundational benefits while expanding applications, easing combination of ‘on chain’ and ‘off chain’ data storage”. Additionally, the patent cites potential application across a variety of industries, including health care, financial services, data sciences, and more.

The patent is currently listed for 2,250 ETH (approx $9M USD at time of writing) on OpenSea, with no bidders at the time of writing.

The road doesn’t seem to stop here, either. It was around the same time that reports were released that IBM would be working with IP specialists IPwe to represent patents as NFTs as well. As the report notes, “IBM’s blockchain group already works with corporate clients on tech efforts like tracking food supply chains using the blockchain”. Additionally, IBM said in a joint statement that the tokenization of IP “will help position patents to be more easily sold, traded, commercialized or otherwise monetized”. IPwe founder Erich Spangenberg cited that only a small percentage of the patent market is valued. IPwe has been working on a ‘Global Patent Marketplace’ powered by blockchain technology. The team with IBM Services has broadly described this as the “digitization of everything”.

The Patent’s Producers & Rights

This NFT is especially unique for a couple different reasons. Firstly, it’s seemingly the first publicly-available patent utilizing blockchain technology, and for a patent within blockchain technology rights as well. Additionally, the NFT has transferrable rights rarely seen at a comparable level. The NFT purchaser receives an executed agreement, and carries the right to sue for infringement should it occur. As the discussion around the most valuable use cases for NFTs continue to evolve, patents could find their way towards the top of the list.

True Return Systems, who have hosted the NFT, is a Connecticut-based financial technology consulting company. Their partner on the project, D. Tiller Law, is a legal firm focused on IP and technology.

Inventor Jack Fonss of True Return Systems noted in the press release that “the most impactful patents are themselves functional works of art”. If this sentiment continues to be shared with rights-holders and inventors, we could see many more patent NFTs to come.

Art and creative engagement, meet utility and innovation.

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