With ratings dropping for television programs and theaters uncrowded due to COVID-19, OTT has become mainstream
- Filings of trademark applications related to OTT services dramatically increased over the most recent 5 years -
Office worker A in his/her thirties, who telecommutes due to COVID-19, watches movies on Netflix instead of going to the cinema and also watches soap operas which he/she could not watch in real time. University student B, who cannot physically attend classes, tries to overcome this COVID-19 crisis wisely by listening to English content on Olleh TV and watching an individual creator’s content on YouTube. Since OTT (Over the Top) services providing content without the limitations of time or place have hugely increased in popularity due to the spread of contactless culture caused by COVID-19, filings of trademark applications related to OTT are greatly increasing recently.
* OTT (Over the Top): Original meaning is ‘beyond the Set Top Box’, but used in a comprehensive manner, it covers TV services providing various media content via internet such as broadcast programs, movies and education, etc.
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), filings of trademark applications related to OTT services more than doubled in 2019 (3,735 cases) compared to 2015 (1,777 cases), and the average annual rate of increase during the most recent 5 years (from 2015 to 2019) was approximately 21%.
* OTT services (Class 38): streaming services via the internet, transmission of digital files for the transmission and reception of online content, provision of telecommunication access to videos/transmission services/streaming via the internet and video-on-demand transmission, etc.
** Trademark application filings in the most recent 5 years; OTT statistics are based on multiple-class applications
Specifically, from this January to April, overall filings of trademark applications decreased 3.3% due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 in comparison to the same period in 2019 (99,090 cases); however, trademark applications related to OTT services increased 54.6%, from 1,125 cases to 1,740 cases.
Among filings of trademark applications related to OTT services in the most recent 5 years by economic unit, small and medium-sized or mid-sized businesses took 46%, individuals took 32.3%, major companies took 11.4%, foreign filings took 7.1% and others took 2.5%, which shows that small and medium-sized businesses and individuals account for a very large proportion of such filings.
<Trademark applications for designated services related to OTT (Class 38)>
Domestic OTT corporations such as WAVVE, WATCHA PLAY and POOQ, etc. are filing noticeably more trademark applications, from the 1,158 cases in 2015 to 1,893 cases in 2019, and they took 55.9% among all filings of trademark application related to OTT services (13,687 cases). Foreign corporations such as Netflix filed trademark applications for Disney Channel, Apple TV, HBO (United States), LeTV and IQIYI (China).
In the case of individual filings, it is judged that the recent craze for 1 person broadcasting via Africa TV and YouTube, etc. has lead to the filing of trademark applications related to OTT services (458 cases in 2015 → 1,545 cases in 2019).
Also, along with trademark applications related to OTT services, the number of applications for software and mobile apps related to OTT services, etc. increased from 1,754 cases in 2015 to 3,222 cases in 2019.
* Goods and services related to OTT support: Computer software for streaming devices, computer software for transmitting multimedia content/broadcasting (Class 9), development and providing of software for processing and distribution of multimedia content (Class 42), etc.
<Trademark applications with goods related to OTT services support (Class 9) and services (Class 35, 41 and 42)>
Such tendency is analyzed as indicating that OTT service providers recognize the importance of goods related to OTT technologies and that they are trying to secure trademark rights of related services and goods.
The director of the Trademark & Design Examination Bureau of KIPO stated, “It is anticipated that the OTT services market will continue to grow and that filings of trademark applications related to OTT will increase due to the contactless environment caused by COVID-19. Accordingly, careful strategies will be required to avoid trademark conflict, for example, filing a trademark application in advance with the goods and services which are planned to be used before the starting of an OTT business.”