Amazon patents blockchain-based product authentication

e-Commerce giant Amazon has been awarded a US patent on a system that it says could be used to track items through the supply chain using a “distributed electronic ledger.”

Amazon has been under fire of late over the presence of counterfeits on its websites, some of which have now been included in the US Trade Representative’s latest Notorious Markets list. While it doesn’t mention fakes at any point, the patent (No. 10,664,797) notes “Once trust is lost, it can often be difficult to regain.”

It goes on: “As society moves more activities across borders and into the virtual world, the ability to discern the trustworthiness of an item or party can become a difficult if not impossible task.

“Technologies for recording information continue to proliferate, but this proliferation presents a patchwork of systems and databases that can often lack transparency, coherency, referential integrity, or security, which can be factors impacting trust.”

Amazon insists it is taking strenuous efforts to tackle the issue of counterfeits. It has launched a suite of tools to help brand owners, including Project Zero for the automated takedown of suspect listings, the Transparency product serialization service and a utility patents scheme for lookalike products that don’t directly infringe trademarks, amongst other measures.

An abstract of the patent, which was awarded on May 26, appears below:

Distributed ledger certification

Abstract: Features are disclosed for an interface for verifiable tracking of an item through a supply chain using a distributed electronic ledger. For example, when an item is added to a catalog system, the item information may be included in the creation element at the start of the ledger for the item. A certification authority may be included to verify that items received correspond to the item included in the catalog based on one or more certification rules. If a certification rule is satisfied, a record may be added to indicate transfer of the item from a provider to the catalog system. The certification information may be dynamically presented with item description information such as in response to searches of the catalog system.

US Patent No. No. 10,664,797

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