Thursday, 25 March, 2021

U.S. Patent granted for Holochain Distributed App Framework

In a big step forward for the P2P web, Holo Limited was granted a US patent for the rrDHT networking innovations within Holochain. rrDHT is a peer-to-peer networking design implemented in Holochain that describes a system of nodes communicating according to a relaxed, agent-centric distributed hash table.

Holo is owned in full by the Holochain Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Gibraltar, and formal transfer of this patent to the foundation will be completed this month.

You can read more about the patent (number 10,951,697) in the original documentation: United States Patent and Trademark Office website.

So why file a patent?

Holochain in an open-source project - so why would we spend the time and money to file for a patent? The reality is that projects can be stopped in their tracks while using their own innovations if others are granted patents for the technology. In other words, this is a defensive patent. It is our intention to use this innovation and share it openly within the context of the Holochain open-source framework.

This patent is a critical component of the open source license used for Holochain. The Cryptographic Autonomy Licence (CAL) was approved by the OSS in 2019 and it makes Holochain widely available to not only developers, but it also protects end-user data rights. Licenses are only powerful as they relate to the intellectual property laws they are based on. The CAL’s protections for Holochain and users of distributed apps built with Holochain are fully enforceable and this patent enables that enforcement both through copyright and also through patent law.

Van Lindberg, the IP attorney involved in writing the CAL and the patent application shares this: Patents protect how innovations can be used. In our case this patent is intended to protect the Holochain open-source project from trolls who could file patents on our technical innovation and then use them to prevent us from implementing it. The patent is also a critical component of the Cryptographic Autonomy License. Licenses are only powerful as they relate to the IP laws they are based on. Having this patent ensures the CAL is fully enforceable - which means it will protect the rights of end users to have sovereignty over their data.
- Van Lindberg, Taylor English

What is the technology innovation of the patent, for a layperson?

In simple terms this patent represents an easy way to represent complex distributed data models, and manage them with high resilience. While it is possible to design computing systems that don’t use state, many problems--particularly those that are designed to reflect human interactions and the physical world--are easier to model when the computing system has state. The patent focuses on the methods for saving, storing and retrieving data in a multi-node computing system where no single node has a comprehensive index of nodes or content managed by those nodes.

As you can see in the diagram below, rrDHT gets efficient sharding and storage redundancy by many nodes with overlapping ranges of data they’re responsible for. We get fast lookups by being able to jump to known peer addresses across the circle. And we have a simple way of representing who is responsible for holding data. This model turns out to be very efficient for managing a self-healing DHT.

The team behind Holochain and the people behind this patent

Our team and community is deeply appreciative of the work that Arthur Brock, David Braden and Jamison Day have put into this achievement. They are the authors of the innovation upon which this patent is based. Arthur is the co-founder of Holochain. David Braden is a leader on the Holochain core development team who is instrumental at implementing peer-to-peer networking innovations in the framework. Jamison Day is an architect and team lead who worked deeply with the Holochain team for several years to iterate and improve the designs.

About Holo

Holo is a distributed cloud hosting network and marketplace that enables peer-to-peer Holochain applications to be used by regular web users. Holo does to app hosting what Airbnb did to hotels; anyone can use a spare computer to become an app host and get paid in HoloFuel for hosting distributed applications. Each host on the Holo network sets their own prices and preferences for the apps they want to host, and each app publisher sets the hosting specifications required for their Holochain application.

About Holochain

Holochain is an open-source framework and network protocol for developing peer-to-peer scalable and efficient applications. It is fast, secure, and versatile, which makes it perfect for a wide range of everyday apps. Its long list of uses include social apps, team collaboration, Internet of Things, currencies, and much more. Holochain is a peer-to-peer innovation beyond blockchain that can actually deliver on blockchain promises.

Licensing and legal

Holochain is the only implementation of the rrDHT P2P networking innovation that we are aware of. Others interested in implementing based on it should contact [email protected].

Contact info for Press Release

More info available at
For more information please contact: Jarod Holtz at [email protected]