Patents and Intellectual Property as NFT

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A Decentralized Framework for Patents and Intellectual Property as NFT in Blockchain Networks Seyed Mojtaba Hosseini Bamakan,a,d Nasim Nezhadsistani,b Omid Bodaghi,c Qiang Qud a Department of Industrial Management, Yazd University, Yazd City, Iran. b Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan City, Iran. c School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran City, Iran. d Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen, 518055, China Corresponding author at qiang@siat.ac.cn Abstract With the explosive development of decentralized finance (DeFi), we witness a phenomenal growth in tokenization of all kinds of assets, including equity, funds, debt, and real estate. By taking advantage of blockchain technology, digital assets are broadly grouped into fungible and non-fungible tokens (NFT). Here non-fungible tokens refer to those with unique and non-substitutable properties. Although the application of NFT is currently limited to digital fantasy artwork, games, collectible, etc., due to its unique capabilities, protocols, and platforms, they could be utilized in more practical issues. The main objective of this paper is to examine the requirements of presenting intellectual property assets, specifically patents, as NFTs. Hence, we offer a layered conceptual NFT-based patent framework with a comprehensive discussion on each layer, including storage, decentralized authentication, decentralized verification, Blockchain, and application layer. Furthermore, a series of open challenges about NFT-based patents and the possible future directions are highlighted. The proposed framework provides fundamental elements and guidance for businesses in taking advantage of NFTs in real-world problems such as grant patents, funding, biotechnology, event ticketing, and so forth. Keywords: Blockchain, Intellectual property, Patents, Non-Fungible Tokens, Tokenization. 1. Introduction Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) such as blockchain are emerging technologies posing a threat to existing business models. Most traditional businesses depend on slow and costly intermediaries to build credit and trust among parties, such as two businesses exchanging money for an asset. The first use case of blockchain technology was initially presented in 2008 by introducing Bitcoin to create peer-to-peer digital money1. Ethereum, which is considered the second generation of blockchain, was introduced in 2014, allowing developers to run smart contracts on a distributed ledger. With smart contracts, developers and businesses can create financial applications that use cryptocurrencies and other forms of tokens for applications such as decentralized finance (DeFi), crowdfunding, decentralized exchanges, data records keeping, etc. 2. Recent advances in distributed ledger technology have developed concepts that lead to cost reduction and the simplification of value exchange. Nowadays, by leveraging the advantages of blockchain, any physical and non- physical assets could be transformed into digital token. Tokenization of assets is a unique and remarkable method of representing a distributed ledger3. Moreover, tokenization provides more transparency, traceability, and cost-efficiency of transactions. In the landscape of blockchain technology, there could be defined three types of tokens, including tangible tokens, fungible tokens, which all the tokens have equal value, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that feature unique characteristics and are not interchangeable. Actually, non-fungible tokens are digital assets with a unique identifier that is stored on a blockchain 4. NFT was initially suggested in Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP)-721 5, and it was later expanded in EIP-1155 6. NFTs became one of the most widespread applications of blockchain technology that reach worldwide attention in early 2021. They can be digital representations of real-world objects. NFTs are tradable rights of digital assets (pictures, music, films, and virtual creations) where ownership is recorded in blockchain smart contracts 7. In particular, cryptographic assets can be either fungible or non-fungible. Fungibility is the ability to exchange one with another of the same kind as an essential currency feature. The non-fungible token is unique and therefore cannot be substituted 8. Recently, blockchain enthusiasts have indicated significant interest in various types of NFTs. They enthusiastically participate in NFT-related games or trades. CryptoPunks 9, as one of the first NFTs on Ethereum, has developed almost 10,000 collectible punks and helped popularize the ERC-721 Standard. With the gamification of the breeding mechanics, CryptoKitties 10 officially placed NFTs at the forefront of the market in 2017. CryptoKitties is an early blockchain game that enables users to buy, sell, collect, and digital breed cats. Another example is NBA Top Shot 11, an NFT trading platform for digital short films buying and selling NBA events. Although NFTs have had many applications so far, it rarely has been used to solve real-world problems. In fact, an NFT is an exciting concept about Intellectual Property (IP). Applying for a patent and trademark is a time-consuming and 1

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