Can blockchain technology help the fight against counterfeits? From 22 to 25 June 2018 the best programmers will take part in a Blockathon organised by the European Union Intellectual Property Office: a contest to find the best solution to fight fakes, and protect intellectual property rights, by using blockchain technology.
Can blockchain help build a common anti-counterfeiting infrastructure?
The European Union Intellectual Property Office thinks it might, and has organised a Blockathon, an anti-counterfeiting blockchain competition.
Why blockchain technology for anti-counterfeiting
The reasoning is that a major problem with protecting intellectual property rights is the mere impossibility of tracking every package and shipment entering a given territory.
Moreover, in the European Union there are many tools, solutions and ways to fight counterfeiting but they work separately, are centralised and have little synchronisation.
Lastly, there is no way to connect all relevant players: intellectual property offices, governments, customs, manufacturers, retailers, shipping companies, ports and airports and, last but not least – citizens.
The idea is that greater synchronisation and decentralisation are needed: ways to communicate what is authentic and what has actually occurred throughout the supply chain from manufacturer to consumer. “A secure, collectively shared truth”, according to EUIPO.
In practical terms, the Blockathon’s aim is to link existing tracking solutions already on the market with public intellectual property databases by using blockchain technology.
This is to be done by developing an infrastructure that allows interested parties to check the authenticity of any product openly and easily, and right holders to receive counterfeiting alerts.
A tall order, but considering that the global annual value of counterfeiting is now set at about 338 billion euro, and that 43 million European Union citizens were tricked into buying a fake product instead of a genuine one in 2017 alone, the EUIPO believes it’s time to explore new ideas.
Where and when
The Blockathon will take place from 22 to 25 June 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. 10 selected teams will work together with leading institutions, experts, industry, government representatives and tech companies to co-create relevant prototypes to address the anti-counterfeiting challenge.
Applications are now open until 30 April 2018. Only teams of 4 to 8 members are admitted, including a captain representing the team.
Several prizes are provided, depending a system of points. Each team can win prizes up to a maximum of 70,000 euro.