Patents are a way for companies or individuals to legally protect a piece of intellectual property but also to share ideas with the public. The blockchain space, which is ideologically rooted in open source, has traditionally been quite skeptical of companies that patent their blockchain development. The vast majority of projects in the space is developed as open source, which means that anyone can review the code, propose modifications or fork the project altogether.
Patenting blockchain ideas is still fairly frequent though; but nearly all patents are applied for by tradition non-blockchain companies. According to The Block’s research, there are now more than a thousand pending patent applications.