Talk about the popular kid in school. Winning the patent popularity contest this month is bitcoin, which this week alone saw not one, not two, but NINE patent filings published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office!
A patent search shows that Coinbase, a bitcoin services firm, is the applicant in all nine patent applications. All pertain to a system and method for bitcoin transactions.
Take a look at what the intellectual property Coinbase hopes to protect with a patent:
- Hot Wallet for Holding Bitcoin – Functionality for storing bitcoin values in a virtual vault for security purposes.
- User Private Key Control – A system that provides a private key for a bitcoin e-mail address to access the vault.
- Bitcoin Private Key Splitting for Cold Storage – A private key for a Bitcoin address where the vault is split and distributed to keep the vault secure.
- Instant Exchange – Allows for merchants and customers to lock in a local currency price.
- Personal Vault – A vault has multiple e-mail addresses to authorize a transfer of bitcoin out of the vault, so a personal vault gives users the option of having private keys stored in locations that are under their control.
- Send Bitcoin to E-mail Address – A system and method that allows bitcoin to be sent to an e-mail address, (which looks to be remarkbly similar in nature to the current online payments giant, Paypal).
- Bitcoin Exchange – Allows users to set prices for which they are willing to sell or buy bitcoin and execute such trades.
- Tip Button – A mechanism that rewards content creators for their efforts.
- Off-Block Chain Transactions in Combination With On-Block Chain Transactions – A block chain is a shared public database monitored by participants called miners who verify and time stamp transactions and append blocks of transactions to the block chain using specialized miner computer systems.
So why the sudden surge in bitcoin services? Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, says it’s a business necessity to patent its processes to protect the company from larger companies that engage in patent warfare.
You’ll be hearing a lot about bitcoin in the future, so for the uninitiated, here’s what the buzz is all about.
Next Generation of Money
Bitcoin is digital currency. It’s not the only type of digital money out there, but it’s one of the most known. Some believe digital currency will replace paper money in the future.
How Transactions Take Place
You buy something using bitcoins. Your transaction is recorded in a virtual ledger that is shared by all users. In the background, a competition using complex math formulas is going on among computer powerhouses to perform your transaction. The winner gets rewarded with even more bitcoins.
What’s So Great About Digital Currency
There are no central bankers, governments, or other third-party brokers in control of the flow of money or charging fees to process transactions. By removing this power, some believe financial crises can be avoided, and businesses save on transaction processing fees.
According to the patent search, Coinbase submitted the patent applications on March 17, 2015, and the USPTO published them on September 17, 2015. It could take years for the USPTO to determine whether the inventions are new and novel enough to be patentable.