Amazon has been awarded two patents in digital signatures and distributed storage techniques by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The move follows a recent collaboration by Amazon with startup Kaleido on an Ethereum marketplaces targeting enterprises.
Amazon’s digital signature patent focuses on a Merkle-tree based cryptographic signature delegation scheme stemming from a central authority. The distributed storage patent is centered on extending distributed storage grid shards for improving storage efficiency of large data sets.
Amazon and Other Companies Making Patent Moves
Amazon’s foray into blockchain has mirrored similar moves by other major companies that have entered the industry. There seems to be a predilection for patenting techniques related to cryptography from companies such as Bank of America, IBM, and Mastercard.
Amazon’s patent for digital signature delegation is based on the cryptographic concept of Merkle trees. Merkle trees are binary hash trees commonly employed in cryptocurrencies for verifying and authenticating data in a P2P network.
The distributed storage patent awarded to Amazon was filed almost three years ago and focuses on a more efficient means of reducing data redundancy and recovery in a distributed network.
Speculation around amazon’s potential role in the future blockchain and cryptocurrency industry has continued to evolve since its cryptocurrency-related domain registrations last year. With the Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform massively popular among enterprises, Amazon may end up playing a consequential role in the development of more permissioned blockchain systems that integrate both centralized and decentralized features.
The surge in patenting of blockchain and its related technology is a form of validation for the early-stage industry. However, the rush to patent widely accessible and well-known methods and techniques has drawn criticisms as well. The cryptocurrency and blockchain industry is trending towards open-source platforms and underlying tech. Many of the patents filed by the likes of Mastercard and Bank of America are only slight modifications of very similar cryptographic techniques or data storage models.
For instance, Mastercard recently filed for multiple similar patents that essentially just said blockchains could be used as auditable data mediums that are highly tamper-proof. Such patent filings are basically outlining generally understood information about blockchains and attempting to make them proprietary.
Amazon’s recent patent wins, and the proliferation of patenting blockchain-related technologies will continue as companies jockey for position in a blossoming industry. How these companies fold into the broader trend towards permissionless systems and open-source technology is uncertain, but it is clear that they intend to become integral figures in bringing the technology to the mainstream.