CoinJournal recently spoke extensively with Dr. Dominik Thor of IPchain Database, now Vaultitude, at CoinFest UK 2018 to discuss how the company plans on using blockchain technology to improve the protection and management of intellectual property.
Thor explained how his search for blockchain secured intellectual property protection drew a blank, leading him, with the support and encouragement of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN), to create Vaultitude.
After working in banking, Thor founded a small biotech company where he discovered the challenges that universities, researchers, and inventors, face when trying to protect their intellectual property. Thor quickly realised that using a blockchain could help to immutably record a discovery or invention very early on, securely recording exactly who came up with an idea, or made a breakthrough, in a format that could not be disputed.
Thor and his biotech firm reached out but surprisingly didn’t find anyone that had so far pursued the idea of offering blockchain based intellectual property protection.
“Even though it’s such an obvious use case, if you take a look from a blockchain perspective it’s really easy to come up with something like a timestamp, where you can prove you can do something prior to anyone else. That, legally speaking, has been a huge problem in the past for inventors, creators of art, of music, of videos, of text, and researchers. They have to prove that they did it first. That is the basis for their rights. The same applies to web pages.”
“Blockchain is a huge thing here, we figured everyone has to be aware of that in intellectual property and nobody was.”
Thor’s team reached out to UN agency WIPO, the highest authority on intellectual property having written regulation for every patent office across the globe. WIPO agreed firmly on the potential of blockchain technology, encouraging Thor to pursue his idea with their support. Vaultitude now has two former WIPO directors on board as advisors providing a “great help” to Thor and his team.
CoinJournal asked Thor “What kind of organisation or individual might be interested in using the services of Vaultitude?”
“I think we will have a very broad range of users, obviously companies with their own R&D projects, the Google’s, Siemens, IBM’s, of the world, but also medium-sized companies that don’t have the resources for a huge IP department.”
Vaultitude’s services relate to research departments at universities too, the work of professors and experts also needs to be protected and administrated.
“Then comes the largest use case group, people like you and me who create IP without even knowing we should protect it, you make photos, you code a web page, you are maybe a game developer, you write music, or text, or blog entries. All this you automatically own the right to, but the problem is you have to prove that it is yours and in the digital world that opportunity is getting smaller, when things can be exchanged so quickly, how can you go back and say actually that is me that is doing that? Thanks to IPchain (Vaultitude) database that will be possible.”
Vaultitude’s technology will initially run on Ethereum due to the security and flexibility of the network.
“We need to have an open architecture because what we are trying to do should be independent of any public blockchain, that means our architecture allows us to run on any architecture that is suitable.”
In the future, Vaultitude plan to be able to switch to any suitable blockchain or offer users the ability to choose the blockchain they like the best. We asked Thor how Vaultitude would make its blockchain interoperable.
“When it comes to the basic architecture, the way we designed the whole system is that we don’t store the data from the actual IP on the blockchain, the reason is simple, its size.”
Text doesn’t need a lot of storage, but 3D designs, huge codes, music, or video, would require a huge amount of storage space. This information has to be stored without impacting the operation or speed of the whole blockchain. Vaultitude have a solution to this data storage problem by using IPFS.
“We use IPFS, the InterPlanetary File System, to store the data. It allows us to have something scalable and more or less free of cost, we store the hash on the blockchain and link to the IPFS file.”
Vaultitude users are provided with the hash and the link to the IPFS file to give them proof that their intellectual property is protected.
Vaultitude have released a demonstration at vaultitude.com that allows users to take the example of a fictional ICO to demonstrate how they save information to IPFS, and the “digital hash”, the file’s hash, to the Ethereum Blockchain thereafter, thus generating a timestamp. This is the backbone of many of the final platform’s features and will allow Vaultitude to prove authorship, make defensive publications, or prove the existence of contracts or sales agreements.
The regulations vary from country to country, but for many countries, users could protect their intellectual property using a service such as Vaultitude, then go on to file a more expensive patent application later on.
There are other ways to protect intellectual property, but many of them rely on data being stored on a server. Many big companies have asked Vaultitude “What would happen if their startup fails? What would happen to their data and protection?”
“Data that is stored on the blockchain stays there forever, I think that is a huge competitive advantage and one of the reasons why blockchain is perfectly tailored for this use case of protecting IP.”
We asked Thor about developing the user interface (UI) for the platform. Vaultitude have worked comprehensively on its UI to make it intuitive, simple, and holistic, as it will be used by many different stakeholders including intellectual property creators, corporate users, academics, and patent offices. The patent offices will be able to search Vaultitude either as a database, or a web interface when processing patent applications.
At vaultitude.com there is a video guide showing the UX design of v1.0.
“Our aim is to create a holistic tool for protecting the innovator’s interests. Vaultitude is not limited to “only” innovations or research and art, we try to provide better protection to all kinds of files, trade secrets or vital data. We want to ensure safe storage, sharing, sale, licensing, publishing and proving the ownership of files and/or date, all conveniently referred to as IP.”
Vaultitude have already conducted a pre-sale and private sale to institutional investors and will be conducting a public token sale in the 3rd quarter of 2018. At the same time, the first Beta release of Vaultitude will be available. As a software company planning to work with many large and very credible organisations, getting the first release of Vaultitude as perfect as possible is essential to Thor and his team.
“We are targeting a multi-billion-dollar industry here, where there is actual need for a service such as ours. “
Thor explained how fortunate Vaultitude has been with many key players seeing the opportunity for blockchain in intellectual property and reaching out to Vaultitude.
“They, just as we did in the beginning, they don’t find the real partner that could help them understand and use blockchain to its full effect, thankfully we get a lot of support.”
“IP sounds so very abstract but its something that all of us create on a daily basis.”
For the global economy, Thor shares the view that it’s the companies with the best ideas which are richest and tells us that protecting these ideas is part of the ethos of Vaultitude.
We asked Thor what additional services Vaultitude would offer, and he talked us through a user’s ability to record the protection and sharing, of confidential information.
“We can allow people to safely exchange information.”
With Vaultitude, users will be able to record the use of non-disclosure agreements, recording their signing, and then any subsequent sharing of confidential information in order to protect that information and enforce non-disclosure agreements. Users will be able to securely share a link and the content of confidential information stored via Vaultitude and its blockchain architecture.
“You store information on Vaultitude, keeping it in a secure digital vault and then you can do many things with it.”
Thor explained more about Vaultitude’s plans to support legal authorities, patent offices, agencies, companies, and individuals, worldwide using the existing patent and intellectual property infrastructure available to provide an option for secure, immutable, intellectual property protection in his interview with CoinJournal and his presentation at CoinFest UK 2018
CNBC will also broadcast coverage of Vaultitude on the “Advancements with Ted Danson” show later in the year, nationwide in the US.
“We also have the pleasure to demonstrate the software at WTO, WIPO, EUIPO, EPO, IEEE, LESI or patent office events and are in talks with many leading legal firms, universities and high-tech companies, who see a chance to better protect their innovations.”