When a group of people freely contribute to technology in an attempt to make the world a better place, its not long before others exploit it for profit. There are necessary evils and ways to do this like the way Coinbase, Blockchain, and Overstock have.
There has to be a level of commercial involvement for mass adoption and Overstock in particular took this a step further and put one of those "killer apps" on the blockchain with its T0 platform that gained SEC approval. Many people are not huge fans of Coinbase, but like them or not the industry would not be where it is today without them. They are a positive thing.
Then there are the ways company's like R3CEV and Bank of America do it. They denounce bitcoin while at the same time file patents on its technology in the wake of its success.
If your R3CEV (funded by a bunch of banks) you also exploit the technology and make your own product that fortunately nobody else has to use.
To explain how ridiculous patent law has become I'll put it this way, did you know that clicking on a button to buy something from a shopping cart is a patented process? If you didn't, it's not a surprise since most people do not. If you did then you know Amazon owns this patent, they just do not enforce it.
Patent law, which is a black art mind you, allows you to patent just about anything for any reason and nothing has to actually work. You can patent a concept so long as you illustrate it with enough detail to convince the US Trademark and Patent office to grant you one of these things.
Sadly, you can patent other peoples ideas too. Even something like the shopping cart button which was common place long before Amazon ever decided to snag the patent.
Patented Big Business
Patents are big business and bring in millions annually to those who hold them. Those funds are typically in the form of payments from other companies using the patented technology or process, the exclusivity to sell a product, or by way of suing those using similar enough technology to make a lawsuit worth pursuit.
It's kind of ridiculous.
Bank of America had a team study blockchain and file numerous patents on the technology without even knowing what it could possibly be used for.
"...the commercial application is still very unclear as a technologist...most people would be surprised at Bank of America with patents in the blockchain or cryptocurrency space. (It's) very important in the intellectual property world to reserve our spot even before we know what the commercial application might be." Catherine Bessant, the chief operations and technology office at Bank of America
I'm not making this stuff up. This is what she actually said in a CNBC interview regarding the patents. This is very common practice among company's with money to burn. It costs thousands of dollars (USD) in attorney and associated fees to file a patent properly with a reasonable chance of being granted one by the United State Trademark and Patent Office (USTPO) and it's not unreasonable to assume that Bank of America laid out somewhere around a quarter of a million dollars filing these patents they have no idea how to use or what application they have in the real world.
They could have just asked.
R3CEV Joins The Bandwagon
dinbits.com doesn't publish much on R3CEV since they are not working with blockchain, consensus, or cryptographic token technology of any kind, or at least they say this. They call their system a distributed ledger, which some can argue bitcoin's blockchain is, but blockchain is much more than just a ledger. In fact it's core basis is to provide an electronic trust. Essentially a platform for transactions without a mediator between two party's such as a beneficiary and remitter.
However, R3 has a PR team reaching out to every virtual currency outlet, attending conferences, and giving interviews to the media that the world of bitcoin and blockchain technology pay attention to. They announce completion of "trials" and "tests" more than anything, but a constant barrage of self-proclaimed "greatness" is fed to the media in regards.
This is a strategy and they know what they are doing. Other companies like IBM are just as guilty. They acknowledge bitcoin as a rough proof-of-concept, then denounce it stating they have a better way. Yet, nobody has been able to produce an example that actually works to prove it.
R3CEV claims to have something but nobody has seen it really work yet and IBM hasn't done anything but release some cloudware that has to run in their cloud, which interestingly enough requires you to pay them. Go figure.
We don't know about Corda for sure, but based on what they have stated and most certainly in IBM's case, neither one can do what bitcoin does and bitcoin is the industry standard for blockchain. Its security and immutability are unmatched.
Ethereum looks may be a close second one day, disregarding the controversial hard fork where it shot itself in the head of course. Do not count Ethereum out by any means, it's just a young network and something like this was bound to happen. Eventfully with maturity it can become a strong network and better than anything IBM or R3CEV has yet to offer.
Now R3CEV has filed a patent in regards to one of its offerings, this is according to the Wall Street Journal, but we couldn't find a trace of evidence to support the claim. This isn't to say its not true, it's just new and we could not locate the material.
A long time ago patents were important. They were meant to keep people who spend allot of time and money inventing something protection from others just stealing the idea and the profit that goes along with it.
Since then it's become more of a joke than anything, but a company with enough money to burn, and in some cases only exist for this purpose, can go after other companies with money to burn to feed themselves through the duration of that companies success with whatever product is using the patented technology.
It's possible that R3CEV is taking what it has and what it learned from everyone else, and trying to get a patent so that they can profit later. This is exactly what Bank of America did. It's not pretty. It's tasteless really. At the end of the day however, it's legal and they'll be laughing all the way to the bank if they manage to pull it off.
It still doesn't make it right, but it's also theoretical since we do not know what they have.
Perhaps R3CEV actually does have something new and all original that they themselves invented and we're all about to be blown away. It is possible.... but I wouldn't hold your breath.