JPMorgan Revises Patent for Bitcoin-like Digital Currency

(Imaginechina via AP Images)

(Imaginechina via AP Images)

by Katherine Arline

JPMorgan Chase has applied to revise a US patent that describes a digital currency scheme similar to Bitcoin. If approved, the patent’s updates may indicate the company is bracing for future litigation against the digital currency giant.

JPMorgan originally filed an original application relating to digital currency transfer in 1999, and has since modified the patent five times. The patent, titled “Method and system for processing internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network,” indicates that JPMorgan’s system would associate a payment address with an account holder’s name, and that the account would reside at a financial institution. The payment address would be published, allowing other consumers to send it “virtual cash.”

Like Bitcoin, JPMorgan’s patent says the payment would effectively be anonymized between the payer and payee, a notion first included in the 2003 revision. Transactions on JPMorgan’s system would be recorded on a public digital register, also similar to that maintained by Bitcoin.

The Nov. 28 filing also adds new details about the computer techniques underlying payment transfer and account linkage. The application contains language specific to transferring funds from a mobile device to a payee, and details the methods used to anonymize transactions. The abstract removes text concerning payment notification “on a real time basis.”

“The present invention generally relates to systems and methods for conducting electronic commerce, and more particularly to systems and method in which a payor pushes electronic credits to a payee using an Electronic Funds Transfer system,” JPMorgan says.

The latest filing may be aimed at securing the patent license for potential future litigation against online payment schemes such as Bitcoin, and JPMorgan is unlikely to be the sole contender. Bitcoin’s value has increased almost a hundred-fold in 2013. More than $28 million worth of Bitcoin was traded yesterday alone.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), based in Manhattan, was created in 2000 following the merger of J.P. Morgan & Co. and Chase Manhattan Corporation. The company is currently the world’s eighth largest bank.

Bitcoin was created in 2009 by a Japanese computer scientist, or computer scientists, known pseudonymously as Satoshi Nakamoto.

Katherine Arline

Katherine Arline has spent fifteen years in technology as a designer and developer for both startups and Fortune 500 companies. You can follow her on Twitter @katearline .

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