Czech Republic: How can blockchain help you protect your intellectual property?

published on 14 September 2023 | reading time approx. 2 minutes
Imagine you have just composed a song, written a scientific paper, or completed a film or a book. You are wondering how to obtain a relatively efficient and low-cost basic proof that the intellectual property you've created is yours. There are many ways you can approach this problem in the Czech legal system. For example, you can go to a notary and ask him to issue a notarial deed about your intellectual property. You can also register a trademark, patent, design, trade secret, copyright and, of course, you can always try the least popular method – file a lawsuit. However, all these methods have one problem in common – they are all rather time-consuming and expensive.  




Recent technological developments have brought a revolutionary solution to this problem, namely the use of a digital distributed ledger system called blockchain, which stores data in a way that cannot be altered or erased later. It is an automated system that can give you a proof of intellectual property and help you protect and enforce your rights. It is very simple. You upload your file into the system, which issues you a special certificate with an electron-ic signature with a specific date and time and stores it in so-called blocks. which are then shared between individual users. The records are encrypted (using an immutable code called a hash), a part of which can be accessed by users to confirm the existence of the record. The blockchain thus provides very reliable proof that at any given time a file was uploaded to it by its user – the intellectual property owner. 
A number of such blockchain databases specialising in intellectual property have been created in the Czech Republic and abroad. You may have heard of the acronym NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens), which are records created according to a similar blockchain technology and traded on various platforms. In the past, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) created a its own token system, the so-called WIPO Proof, but discontinued this project in early 2022 due to economic and technological complexity.
How do the courts in the Czech Republic view these blockchain certificates? So far, we don’t know yet from the day-to-day practice of Czech courts, but in theory and according to law, a blockchain certificate should be treated in the same way as any other written proof. In addition, Czech law, when regulating electronic legal transactions, gives a certain ad-vantage to documents that are systematically and sequentially recorded in an electronic system and are protected against changes. Such electronic documents are deemed reliable unless proven otherwise.
What are the possible risks or drawbacks of using blockchain? One thing to remember is that you have to be the real author of your work when you upload it to blockchain. If some-one else does it before you or without your permission, you as a real author might have a problem proving your ownership if the malicious party produces the certificate/contract from the blockchain as evidence at court. 
Another thing to consider is that many judges may find it difficult to understand how block-chain works. You might have to explain it to them or hire an expert to do so.
There is also an issue with personal data protection. Once you put something on the block-chain, you cannot change it or delete it. This could be a problem if your work contains per-sonal data that you are not allowed to use or keep, i.e. you do not have the sufficient legal title for data processing. You also cannot update or delete personal data if the people who gave it to you exercise their personal data rights as so-called data subjects. It is therefore advisable to consider avoiding personal data or using a cryptographic code instead of per-sonal data.
Last but not least, the negative environmental impact of operating blockchains may also be a deal breaker for many users.

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