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The return of the Blockchain ‘hype’. And how this technology has application in the intellectual property field

by Felipe Dannemann Lundgren

July 03, 2019

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The recent announcement of the launch of the cryptocurrency Libra by Facebook, in a megaproject involving heavyweights from the financial market and the “real” economy, such as Visa, Mastercard, and Vodafone, has once again brought the discussion of the disruptive potential of blockchain technology to the forefront.

Despite the initial scepticism, which is normal for a new technology that proposes to “break” with certain paradigms and beliefs (the so-called “hype cycle” that is so very well known to those who work in technology), the fact is that the application of blockchain to the most varied areas has enormous potential. And the market, both digital and real, has already realized this.

In general, and without going into too many technical details, blockchain is a kind of continually growing digital database that can be used to record or track any kind of transaction. At each given time interval, the system creates a new “block” of transactions, and this block is added to the chain, hence the name blockchain (or “cadeia de blocos” in good old Portuguese).

The main characteristic of this blockchain is the immutability, decentralization, and transparency in the way information is recorded since the blocks are distributed in a decentralized manner in the network and interconnected with each other in an encrypted way so that any modification in the content of each block is virtually impossible.

The most obvious application of the technology is actually in the area of financial transactions (blockchain is the technology behind the famous bitcoin). However, the technology has the potential for application in virtually every industry, being able to revolutionize entire markets and industries.

In the intellectual property area, the technology may be particularly interesting as an alternative form of protection for so-called “creations of the spirit”, which, in Brazil, in accordance with the Copyright Law (Law No. 9,610/98), do not depend on formal registration to deserve protection but the exercise of which against third parties who make unauthorized use of the work depends on evidence in court.

It is in these cases that the blockchain technology fits like a glove in order perfectly to prove, simply and economically, the creation of original works.

Abroad, court decisions have already been handed down rendered in copyright infringement lawsuits, based on evidence recorded in blockchain, notably an important decision in China (Hangzhou Huatai Yimei Culture Media Co. Ltd. vs. Shenzen Daotong Technology Development Co., Ltd.), a country that is at the forefront of the technology’s use and application.

In Brazil, a decision was recently handed down rendered by the São Paulo State Court of Appeal, mentioning (and apparently recognizing the validity) of the recorded registration of evidence in a blockchain application (interlocutory appeal no. 2237253-77.2018.8.26.0000 – 5th Chamber of Private Law).

The case, however, does not involve copyright infringement and, as there is no final and unappealable decision on the merits, it is still premature to state that blockchain records will be accepted by the judiciary as means of proof.

Despite this, given the basic principle of our legal system, that all means of evidence will be admissible in law, we do not foresee, in principle, any obstacle for evidence recorded in blockchain not to be considered valid by the judiciary.

It is therefore worth paying attention to this new possibility of protection (simple and cheap) for intellectual works.

 

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Felipe Dannemann Lundgren

Board Member

Lawyer. Master’s degree (LL.M) in Intellectual Property and Competition Law Munich Intellectual Property Law Cente[...]

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