JD.com Inc. announced May 19 during the National Science and Technology Week in China that it has submitted close to 200 blockchain patent applications to the country's intellectual property watchdog, according to a statement from the Chinese e-commerce retailer.
The submissions, made to the National Intellectual Property Admission, are still in the first stage of the application process, a spokesperson for JD.com confirmed to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
The company is again in close competition with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which has applied for 262 patents related to blockchain, according to a report from the China Securities Journal.
The JD.com spokesperson said most of the patents under submission were developed by JD Chain, its internal blockchain unit that launched in April for enterprises. The company also has another open source blockchain platform that allows companies to develop blockchains using prebuilt application programming interfaces.
While JD.com did not specify the applications of the patents filed, private blockchains in these cases are typically used in food supply chain management, Nicholas Krapels, managing director of financial technology investment platform DarcMatter China, told Market Intelligence.
JD.com, which manages its own inventory and supply chain, said it deploys blockchain on its traceability platform to support its consumer retail and healthcare segments, such as the Medicine Open Tracing Solution that launched in late 2018. The company revealed that its blockchain database as of February had accumulated over 50,000 stock keeping units from more than 700 brands including Nestlé SA, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals SA/NV and Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co. Ltd.
JD.com is part of the China chapter of the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance with International Business Machines Corp., Walmart Inc. and Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies. IBM said the alliance, which launched in December 2017, was set up to develop data collection methods for real-time traceability within the food supply chain.