Opportunities and Risks in IP Blockchain Technology

By GPMIP Partner, Christophe Van Gampelaere

Digital technology can revolutionize IP protection, even as China’s decision to halt all ICO’s disrupts the global blockchain landscape.

On August 24, in Huanghzou, China, I addressed a group of investors in IPChain, a Chinese startup that intends to leverage blockchain technology to make Intellectual Property (IP) protection easier to manage. The company aims to make information on copyrights, trademarks and patents traceable and tradable. Whichever team is first to establish a common platform and standard, will be the winning service provider in this field. Incidentally, IPChain was one of the last companies to ICO (Initial Coin Offering) in China before the ban announced on 4 September 2017.

The risks of ICO’s are familiar to investors who lived through the 1997-2000 internet bubble, when a vague idea jotted down on the back of an envelope was enough to raise millions, as long as you “dot commed” it. Much of the cash raised was subsequently burnt in a matter of years, if not months. The equivalent in today’s world is to “blockchain” your idea. Until very recently, one did not need much in terms of business plan or regulatory paperwork to back up an Initial Coin Offering and tap into the wallets of eager investors.

The risk those investors is of course to lose the money they gambled. The risk to entrepreneurs is to lose the initial goodwill associated with the blockchain potential, and to subsequently struggle to raise cash for real good business plans. How to mitigate those risks? The answer lies in applying similar regulations to ICO’s the ones already applicable to IPO’s. The first country to create such a regulatory framework may well attract the best and the brightest, and create a microcosm of blockchain startups in process.

Opportunities abound for those smart enough to invest in blockchain ventures with a solid vision, access to top tier scientists, and an ability to move beyond local boundaries of language and culture.

IP Chain could be just another blip on the screen, or it could become the standard in IP protection. Place your bets.

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