Russia lags behind in blockchain patent applications

Maria Nikolova

Although many of the founders of blockchain projects all over the world are of Russian origin, Russia itself has seen a tiny number of patent applications concerning blockchain since 2008.

For those interested in the distributed ledger technologies and blockchain, it is not a secret that people of Russian origin are often behind many of the projects in this segment. And yet, according to data from “Online Patent”, quoted in a report by the Russian newspaper “Kommersant”, only 17 patent applications related to blockchain were filed in Russia in the period from 2008 to 2017.

The Russian blockchain patent applications account for humble 2% of the total of such applications worldwide – “Online Patent” puts the total number at around 1,000. The leader is China (550 applications), followed by the United States (284 applications) and South Korea (192 applications).

In Russia, all of the blockchain patent applications were filed by Dmitry Ermolaev, the person behind and ERA Blockchain. Of these 17 applications, 12 were denied and 5 have successfully passed the necessary examination.

Lagging behind with regard to blockchain patents may result in legal troubles for many businesses in the future, as well as in extra expenses such as payments for using licensed technologies.

There has been much talk in Russia about regulating blockchain. Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, has recently joined the ranks of supporters of this type of technology and has ordered ministers to explore the potential applications of blockchain for the Russian economy. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications forecast that the implementation of legal provisions for distributed ledger technologies (such as blockchain) will happen not later than in 2019.

Russia has also been working on a bitcoin law. In April this year, Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev said Russia may recognize bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in 2018 while the authorities seek to enforce rules against illegal transfers. However, the timing of such legislation is uncertain. Earlier in August, Elina Sidorenko, who is at the helm of the working group on cryptocurrencies at the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, said the bill for regulating Bitcoin and its likes is about to get delayed. Ms Sidorenko explained that the bill, which was initially poised to be ready in October, will be ready in the winter at the earliest. She mentioned a number of factors for the delay, including the need to establish a common position by all institutions involved in the process, as well as the recent Bitcoin price fluctuations, which raise questions about the vulnerability of crypto currencies.

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