Tencent's Digital Asset Inheritance patent helps the deceased pass on their digital goods

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The ownership of digital goods is still a sketchy subject on specific platforms. For many, it's not clear if digital customers own or license out a copy of a game, book, film or song. Furthermore, if the owner of a digital item passes away, what happens to that item? Well, Tencent's Digital Asset Inheritance patent aims to clear all that up.

What is Digital Asset Inheritance?

Filed in 2019, Tencent's Digital Asset Inheritance patent is a way of passing on digital goods post-mortem. Spotted by video games analyst Daniel Ahmad, the proposed service would act similarly to a will for physical items.

For example, post-mortem, a will is used to declare which items and assets are given out to particular people. The patented Digital Asset Inheritance service would do the exact same thing for the deceased's digital library of content.

At the time of writing, passing over digital content isn't really supported by platforms. An investigation by Eurogamer previously explored the right to inherit someone’s Steam account. In short, it’s not currently possible. In the case of Tencent's patent, however, this wouldn't just apply to games.

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"While not fully related to video games, it has sparked discussions online about game accounts/ virtual item inheritance,” Ahmad explained.

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Tencent isn't the only one

While Tencent's Digital Asset Inheritance looks to be the biggest incorporation of this technology yet, it’s not the only plan. Apple has already started work on its own proprietary asset management service for the Apple ecosystem.

Apple's Digital Legacy service will allow users to select a next of kin that will receive everything they own upon death. Much like Facebook, which allows users to transfer account rights, it’s an easy – if flawed – way of passing over ownership.

Ahmad explained:

"The timing is fairly coincidental given Apple recently announced its own digital legacy service that lets users assign an administrator that can access their digital assets after death. Tencent's patent is similar, but allows direct transfer of items if stated in the will."
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Both of these ideas aren't bulletproof, but then neither are physical wills. At least in the case of Apple, Tencent and Facebook, users will have the option to change who their account is transferred to in a quick and easy manner.

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