Commerce studies blockchain benefits

Commerce studies blockchain benefits

Initial focus on IP, trade finance

The Commerce Ministry has launched a feasibility study to apply public blockchain solutions to copyright management, with plans to expand to agriculture and trade finance to boost the country's competitiveness and credibility, particularly for small business.

Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) under the Commerce Ministry, said the office has the support of the British Embassy in Bangkok to start two feasibility studies for using blockchain on IP registration and trade finance, which are scheduled to be completed in February next year.

Blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.

Blockchain will help with traceability, digital IDs, company and IP registration management, and trade financing to improve transparency, shorten the process, and reduce costs of business operations, she said.

The study covers a wide range of IP topics ranging from registration, IP protection and smart contracts via blockchain to commercialisation opportunities for IP on blockchain technology.

The study also involves IP law review, IP management process review and stakeholder interviews.

The TPSO plans to implement blockchain projects on a small scale first to see where the actual pain points are that should be addressed.

In addition to these two projects on IP and trade finance, TPSO is in the process of creating a "sandbox" for experimentation using blockchain for organic rice export processing.

"Smart farmer" groups that talked to TPSO said the time to process exports of organic rice from Thailand is between 15-20 days, involving at least seven government agencies and numerous steps at a relatively high cost.

Using blockchain for the process could reduce processing time to less than three days, improving transparency and increasing confidence and trust for exporters and foreign importers, benefiting Thai farmers, said Ms Pimchanok.

Nusara Kanjanakul, deputy director-general of the Intellectual Property Department, said blockchain can start to apply for copyright now because ownership has more requirements than the patent and trademark system, meaning it takes more time to be approved.

The segment of copyright licensing, such as with music, has seen several lawsuits as music copyright registration is not compulsory by law, said Mr Nusara.


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