A leading Japan-based automaker and an American automaker recently announced plans to join a research project that will evaluate the potential use of electric vehicles' storage batteries to stabilize the renewable energy power supply in smart grids. The research will be conducted under the framework of the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative, an international consortium of automotive, IT and other businesses that promote blockchain standards in the mobility industry. Another leading Japan-based automaker, in conjunction with a Japanese university and a Japanese renewable energy retailer, also announced plans to test a project on the efficient usage of electricity. The firms' research project aims to enable homes, businesses and electrified vehicles to trade electricity using blockchain technology.

Last week, a luxury fashion brand announced plans to implement Iota's distributed ledger technology for the firm's supply chain tracking. The brand is known for its strong emphasis on sustainability by use of recycled materials. The firm aims to provide customers with the opportunity to verify any assertions made about the garments in their supply chain and track garments from creation to point of sale. Also last week in textile industry news, a world market leader in textile fibers made from renewable wood announced plans to use Textile Genesis, a Hong Kong-based blockchain platform, to support its business. The textile firm will reportedly offer a QR code on the final garment so that consumers can trace the fibers in the finished product.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted a patent for various techniques used to build a proof-of-work cryptographic system, comparable to the cryptographic systems that form the basis of various blockchain-based platforms, to an e-commerce giant based in the United States. According to reports, the patent does not directly discuss blockchains or cryptocurrencies ‒ the patent primarily outlines how a Merkle tree structure, a concept that dates to 1979, allows for verification of data sent between computers on peer-to-peer networks. The second-largest banking institution in the United States also recently obtained a patent that deals with cryptographic systems. According to reports, the patent outlines a cryptocurrency risk detection system that calculates the risk associated with a unique cryptocurrency transaction and assigns a score based on transaction history and IP address. A recent industry report estimates that China-based firms and agencies filed 4,435 blockchain patent applications between 2013 and 2018, roughly 48% of global blockchain patent filings. The same report estimates that U.S.-based firms and agencies filed 1,833 blockchain patent applications, which is roughly 21% of global blockchain patent filings.

The Ethereum Foundation recently announced plans to invest $30 million in key projects across the Ethereum ecosystem over the next year. The funds will support the research and development that powers active engineering projects like ETH 2.0 and live applications like Ethereum 1.0. Funds will also promote developer relations, education and on-boarding to increase access to the Ethereum community in other parts of the world and ensure Ethereum's continued success. The announcement comes on the heels of news that Ethereum clients' failure to patch known vulnerabilities may pose a security risk to the entire network. A recent report indicates that many nodes using the Parity and Geth clients on the Ethereum network remain exposed after patches for security flaws were released.

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