JPMorgan 'Bitcoin Killer' Patent Not Allowed (Yet)
JPMorgan Has No ‘Bitcoin Killer’ Patent
CNN recently published a video post about Bitcoin. The video featured Ron Paul, who suggested that alternative currencies become more attractive during times when the dollar is under attack. Bitcoin has gained some recent popularity as one such alternative currency. Some have suggested that Bitcoin could present a“new paradigm for effectuating electronic payments,” ultimately rivaling present-day services like Western Union, etc.
Recent media attention for Bitcoin suggests that JPMorgan Chase has patented rival technology seeking to compete with Bitcoin. This is not true for a few reasons.
First, JPMorgan does NOT have a patent. JPMorgan has a pending patent application with claims that are potentially relevant to Bitcoin.
Second, the patent application of interest is old news. The application dates back over a decade, which precedes the advent of Bitcoin. This strongly undermines the notion that JPMorgan Chase is chasing Bitcoin’s technology.
Nevertheless, the current scenario raises the interesting question as to whether JPMorgan’s application could potentially cover Bitcoin’s technology when that application issues into a patent.
No Patent for JPMorgan— Only a Patent Application.
The news media appears to confusion a patent with a patent application.
The accompanying CNN article noted that JPMorgan Chase “has patented a digital payment system that could rival Bitcoin.” CNN’s article continues to explain that the digital payment system “includes digital wallets, the ability to transfer money to anyone and anonymity too.”
The Telegraph also reported on the story. The Telegraph ran the following headline: “JPMorgan files patent for ‘bitcoin killer’ currency.” The Telegraph further explained: “The largest bank in the US, JPMorgan, has filed a patent for an electronic currency with many similarities to bitcoin.”
JPMorgan Chase does not have a patent. They only have a patent application. This is an important distinction. Anyone can file a patent application for a new technology. That application matures into a patent only after it is examined by a patent examiner during a multi-year process called patent prosecution. During patent prosecution, the applicant and the examiner argue about the claims and eventually agree on a set of claims that defines a patentable invention.
JP Morgan’s Patent Application is only at the very beginning stages of patent prosecution. It is waiting to be examined at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The application of interest is US Patent Application Number 13/958,881. This is not an issued patent. CNN, the Telegraph, and other news organizations are probably reporting on the patent application because it published on Nov 28, 2013. Apparently that makes it a current event in the eyes of the media.
JPMorgan’s ‘Bitcoin Killer’ Patent Application is Old News.
Notably, the application is old news–more than a decade old. The “Bitcoin killer” application is actually a continuation of an early patent application that was filed on Feb. 3, 2000. The application claims priority back to provisional patent applications filed as early as May 3, 1999. Accordingly, it is highly unlikely that JP Morgan filed this application with any sort of motivation to rival then-non-existant Bitcoin. However, this chronology gives rise to some interesting questions:
Could Bitcoin’s technology infringe on JPMorgan’s patent claims (when they issue)?
As discussed above, JPMorgan’s claims have not issued. (They need to be examined before they issue). However, what if the issued claims cover Bitcoin’s technology? That scenario could be a Bitcoin Killer.
JPMorgan’s Pending Claims
JPMorgan’s current patent application has three independent claims. One example is reproduced below in blue. The other claims (along with the description) can be accessed by following the link to JP Morgan’s Patent Application.
155. A computer-implemented method of providing an anonymous payment from a mobile device to a payee device to enable an electronic payment between a payer and a payee without provision of an account number or name from the payer, the method comprising:
storing, in a computer memory at a host server, payer information and instructions; and
accessing the computer memory using a computer processor to retrieve the payer information and instructions and executing the instructions to perform steps including:
receiving at the host server, a bill payment message from the payee, the bill payment message including a transaction ID;
transmitting the transaction ID to the payer, the transaction ID permitting the payer to initiate transmission of a payment amount;
generating a payment authorization message from the payer, the payment authorization message including a payment amount to be tendered to the payee and the transaction ID, the transaction ID allowing identification of the payment, thereby enabling redemption of the payment amount after the payee receives the transaction ID; and
transferring the payment amount from an account associated with the payer to an account associated with the payee.