To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Innovation within networks – patent strategies for blockchain technology

Milad Dehghani (Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)
Atefeh Mashatan (Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)
Ryan William Kennedy (Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 14 February 2020




Understanding a technology’s patent landscape, including patent strategies, helps organizations position themselves regarding their innovation and provides insight about a technology’s future direction. This study aims to provide an overview of the blockchain technology patenting trends and outlines an exploratory framework of patenting strategies for blockchain.


A total of 3,234 registered patents are analyzed to determine the geographical distribution and identify key actors patenting around the globe. In addition, an empirical study consisting of multiple case studies in the form of ten in-depth interviews with owners/managers of organizations based in North America was conducted to understand organizations’ strategies for patenting the blockchain technology.


Several novel insights regarding the strategies are used for blockchain technology patenting. For example, the existence of strong anti-patent sentiment which results in a lack of patenting by start-up organizations or has led to a form of open source patenting strategy. Larger organizations appear to be patenting defensively, and small to medium organizations are primarily patenting to defend their competitive advantage.

Practical implications

Start-up organizations harboring anti-patent sentiment should consider the open-source patenting strategy to ensure that the collaborative innovation network can continue. They should also consider collaborating with other actors within the network to have a competitive position in the market.


To the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first to conduct an empirical study with organizations currently using the blockchain technology to understand patenting strategies used for blockchain.



This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) under the Insight Development Grant program (PI: Atefeh Mashatan). The authors would like to thank Dr Fawaz Baddar Alhussan, anonymous reviewers, and members of the Ryerson University Cybersecurity Research Lab for valuable feedback during the preparation of this manuscript.


Dehghani, M., Mashatan, A. and Kennedy, R.W. (2020), "Innovation within networks – patent strategies for blockchain technology", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited