A recent patent publication on March 1, 2018 reveals that IBM has filed a patent application related to a globally accessible, unforgeable, and permanent repository of published events in the form of an event ledger.
A review of the patent application by the Bitcoin Patent Report shows that the proposed method involves receiving a request from a publisher to publish, to an event ledger, an event including the name of the publisher, a date and time at which the event occurred, a description of the event, and a cryptographic signature of the event signed using a private key of the publisher. Moreover, the method involves receiving a certificate from the publisher including a public key of the publisher, validating the cryptographic signature of the event using the received certificate, and publishing the event to the event ledger.
IBM explains that “any party may publish an event to the event ledger and any party may examine the events published to the event ledger, and the published events may be used to drive any number of smart contracts residing on any number of smart contract networks, for example, by querying the repository”.
The patent application mentions e-business integrations, court proceedings and settlements as examples of use cases that may require knowledge of a published event.
The idea is very generally claimed, and it remains to be seen whether the US Patent and Trademark Office will grant the patent in its most general form.
Interestingly, a closer investigation by the Bitcoin Patent Report reveals that the Event Ledger (if the same) was presented and offered for download already in March 2016, compared with the filing date of August 23, 2016 of the patent application. Hence, it seems IBM relies on the one-year grace period, a special rule that is generally only valid in the United States allowing an inventor to apply for a patent within one year of his own presentation. In practice, however, this means that the Event Ledger would not be patentable in any other country than the United States because of the presentation.