Several European Union agencies will collaborate to facilitate an EU developer event – what they’re calling a “blockathon” – in June in a bid to explore applications of the tech for intellectual property rights enforcement.
The European Commission has partnered with the European Union Intellectual Property Office and its Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights to launch the Brussels-based hackathon, in which competitors will aim to develop a blockchain-based “integrated solution to combat counterfeiting,” the agencies announced on Wednesday.
The successful team will win a €100,000 (about $124,000) prize.
The agencies estimate that around 43 million EU citizens unknowingly purchased counterfeit products in 2017. However, existing preventative systems “are scattered, often working in silos, and criminal networks use this to their advantage,” they explained in the statement.
As a result, EUIPO executive director Antonio Campinos said, the agency is turning to blockchain as a potential tool to help combat this issue.
“The EUIPO is determined to explore the potential of blockchain to interconnect systems and ensure security and immutability of data in order to add trust to our legitimate ecosystem for the benefits of citizens, enforcers and companies alike. We believe a strong networked alliance can be built to secure logistics, ensure the authenticity of goods, protect consumers and combat criminal and illegal activities.”
The intellectual property use case for blockchain was established during the early days of the industry, with companies using the bitcoin blockchain to store and track digital certificates of ownership. Since then, a number of startups and projects have sprung up applying the tech to networks that aren’t based on bitcoin.
Last year, for example, a project facilitated by the American Society for Composers started developing a platform to track the ownership of legally protected musical works.
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