Why mint an IP-NFT?
A researcher, biotech company, or research sponsor mints IP-NFT to attach IP and R&D data rights to a smart contract on Ethereum. When the user transfers that IP-NFT, those rights transfer along with it.
As smart contracts on Ethereum, IP-NFTs can be permissionlessly transferred peer-to-peer; made composable with DeFi; fractionalized to distribute licenses and governance to to groups of people; built on to unlock new ways to interact with and develop IP, R&D data, and NIPIA (Non-IP Intangible Assets like trade secrets and publicity rights); used to empower crowd control of ethics in commercialization based on FRAND terms; and create unprecedented liquidity in IP markets. IP-NFTs also unlock new and non-dilutive funding opportunities by enabling researchers to access capital by selling IP and data rights without having to apply for grants and sell shares.
Molecule’s protocols are designed to evolve the traditional biopharma IP economy into an open bazaar for drug development.
Traditional IP markets are illiquid, opaque, and inefficient, and IP-NFTs can solve these problems. IP-NFTs keep track of IP licensees and assignees, providing unprecedented transparency in IP ownership and valuation, and enable low-friction swapping and pooling of IP assets, introducing unprecedented liquidity and efficiency in IP transactions.
IP-NFTs enable you to swap, share, fraction, common, co-manage, and collectively commercialize IP, disrupting the IP market by making IP composable with DeFi.
DeFi composability means IP-NFTs can be used to mix and match with other software components like lego bricks. For example, used as RWA collateral to mint stablecoins in MakerDAO; wrapped to cross chains using Synapse and LayerZero; traded on marketplaces like OpenSea, Sudoswap, and Gem; listed in a bespoke IP marketplace like Molecule Discovery; insured using Nexus Mutual; and collateralized, modified, updated, beatified, and gamified. IP-NFTs can be fractionalized into fungible tokens on Fractional.art (now Tessera) or fractionalized into a mix of fungible and non-fungible tokens using the FRENS & FAM legal+smart contract protocol we describe herein. Composability is what makes the IP-NFTs (and the IP, NIPIA, and R&D data they contain) powerful digital objects in the new web.
IP-NFTs also building blocks, a.k.a. legos, of DeSci. Though DeSci is in its nascent stages now, we believe it will be one of the greatest digital disruptions in history, is one of the key use cases of blockchain technology, and has the potential to help solve some of the greatest existential threats to our species through coordinated participation of billions of people in science online.
Tens of thousands of dollars in due diligence spending go into license deals that cover large amounts of IP and data assets. Tracking down and confirming who has a clear title to a patent, confirming lists of licensees or other encumbrances during an assignment, and researching prior valuation can be expensive and time consuming. In IP markets, good information is notoriously difficult to obtain.
IP-NFTs make IP DD easier. When owner and asset-manager records are maintained on chain, licensees can be tracked using block explorers, and transactional history is transparent and immutable, costs of due diligence trend towards zero.
FRENS & FAM fractional tokens make licensing deals as easy as token transfers on Ethereum.
When you bundle all of the potential IP that could arise out of an R&D project into a single digital asset before the project has even begun, you are creating an early stage IP-NFT.
Early-stage IP-NFTs, representing rights to future IP arising from a research project, can best be described as IP seeds: raw potential for growing an entire IP portfolio from a single IP-NFT. This enables funding and distribution of IP & data data rights at an earlier stage than previously possible in IP markets. IP rights can now be efficiently traded before the IP owners invest in the costs of pursuing patents. It’s akin to trading the inventor’s lab notebooks and datasets before mining them for patentable subject matter.
Late stage IP-NFTs can represent rights to trade secrets and patents on inventions that arise from the research project. Licensing terms, ethical conditions, and governance clauses can be encoded into IP-NFTs as license wrappers, which are legal contracts attached to the IP-NFTs. By attaching legal contracts to smart contracts, IP-NFTs create a new kind of smart IP evolving into complex thickets of patents and tech trees. With this diverse potential for evolution, IP-NFTs can create a Cambrian explosion of novel applications for decentralized IP ownership, governance, and commercialization.