China wants to protect intellectual property by blockchain

On November 24, the Chinese government announced the increased protection of intellectual property rights. A blockchain-based platform is to play a key role in this. This emerges from a report of the state-owned news agency Xinhua.


The use of blockchain technology promises to significantly lower the hurdles to a successful IPR infringement suit. Evidence of such an infringement has been costly in China so far. Xinhua reported, referring to the Hangzhou ‘cultural and media’ manager, that such lawsuits often did not pay off for the plaintiffs.


The blockchain system of the Internet court in Hangzhou is intended to remedy this situation. It works by providing all works stored on it with an electronic ID. This way, copyright claims are fully automatically verified in a legally permitted form. In the event of an infringement, owners can easily prove their claims in court. According to Wang Jiangqiao, the vice president of the Internet Court, the Blockchain stores data on the date, place and identity of the author.

Other actors have also recognized the benefits of the blockchain in this area. Application solutions come from the Chinese Internet company Alibaba and the Munich company Bernstein.IO. The latter even secures intellectual property on the Bitcoin blockchain.


Meanwhile, the Hanghzou Internet Court is not the only one in China to make use of the blockchain. Similar authorities in Beijing and Gouangzhou also use the technology. According to Xinhua, China’s Supreme Court has also announced that it is working to establish a unified court blockchain. In this context, a further comment by the Vice President of the Internet Court of Hanzgou makes people sit up and take notice:

    “We hope that we can use the Blockchain judicial platform to help build a credit system in cyberspace, reduce intellectual property infringements and promote legal certainty and efficiency.”


Parallel to improved legal protection, the Chinese state is thus planning to expand its notorious credit system into virtual space. Western media have repeatedly criticized the system, and the state has used it to sanction unwanted behavior. Does the Chinese state also use the blockchain as an effective control instrument?

A report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung suggests that it would go too far to stylise the Chinese credit system one-sidedly as a dystopian means of surveillance.  For many Chinese hope that such technologies can successfully counteract widespread corruption. Nevertheless, the credit system undoubtedly holds a potential for abuse that should not be underestimated.


Incidentally, such systems are also used outside China. Dublin in the US federal city of Ohio, for example, announced a similar points system on a blockchain basis. Citizens can collect points here for behaviour that corresponds to Community values. In this case, too, a sceptical attitude is recommended.