Walmart has filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a sales platform which integrates blockchain technology. This platform was invented by Donald R High, Michael D Atchley, and Chandrashekar Natarajan.

This is a big milestone for the use of blockchain technology, considering that Walmart is one of the world’s largest company with USD 500 billion of revenue, 11,700 stores in 28 countries, and 2.3 million employees. Any integration of blockchain technology by Walmart will end up being used by millions of people worldwide.

In the patent application, a platform for re-selling Walmart products is described. When a customer purchases a product it is recorded in the blockchain with the exact time and cost. The customer can sell their product on the platform to someone else and reference the blockchain record as proof of authenticity. The blockchain will continue to track the product as it passes through the courier service to the end customer, providing another layer of security that the product will be delivered as promised.

Essentially, the blockchain will provide an immutable record of a product’s history from when it is first purchased at Walmart. This record will be virtually safe from hacking or modification since it is secured with cryptographic technology, making it very reliable and giving purchasers of re-sold products peace of mind.

The blockchain records are expected to help prevent fraud when re-selling Walmart products, saving people money. Theoretically, this blockchain technology can be used to track down products stolen from Walmart as well, if the serial numbers are recorded in the database when the products are put on the shelf. In this way, any stolen product can be referenced back to the blockchain database as long as it still has its serial number.

The provisional patent application was originally filed on 16 November 2016, while the non-provisional application was filed on 16 November 2017 but published to the public only five days ago. The patent application has yet to be examined or approved; it takes on average two years from the non-provisional application date for a patent to be approved or disposed of.

If Walmart’s blockchain technology patent is approved, it will have retroactive protection from the provisional filing date in 2016 and can sue anyone who copied the technology since that date. There is no guarantee that the patent will be approved, it must go through patent prosecution to determine if it is unique enough to warrant a patent.

Regardless of whether the patent succeeds, Walmart can begin to use the sales platform with integrated blockchain technology described in the patent at any time it chooses.

 

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/14872355556 – Mike Mozart

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