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Filing of Patent Applications related to Biodegradable Plastics doubled in 5 years

Filing of Patent Applications related to Biodegradable Plastics doubled in 5 years

Due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, plastic waste has become a social issue, and in order to solve this, technologies for biodegradation of plastics are continuously developing.

It is anticipated that the biodegradable plastics market will grow rapidly and that interest in related industries will also increase. According to ‘360i Research’, the worldwide biodegradable plastics market is anticipated to double from $51 billion (approximately 5.7 trillion won) in 2020 to $89 billion (approximately 9.9 trillion won) in 2025.

According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the filing of patent applications in relation to biodegradable plastics grew an annual average of 18% during a recent 5 year period (from 2016 to 2020), which is nearly a doubling in 5 years, from 97 cases in 2016 to 190 cases in 2020.

<Filing trend for biodegradable plastics (from 2016 to 2021)>

In terms of the ratio of applications filed by applicant’s nationality, while domestic applicants increased continuously over the most recent 5 years for which data is complete (from 2016 to 2020) and doubled from 78 cases in 2016 to 158 cases in 2020, the number of foreign applicants showed repeated fluctuation. Especially from 2019 when COVID-19 started, while the filing of applications by foreigners has shown a decreasing trend, the filing of applications by domestic applicants has increased steadily.

<Ratio of application filings by applicant’s nationality (from 2016 to 2021)>

For the ratio of applications filed by type of applicant, filings by corporations lead all by taking 68%. The ratio between individuals (14%) and universities (12%) is similar, and research institutes took 5%.

<Ratio of applications filed by applicant type (from 2016 to 2021)>

Meanwhile, the percentage of applications filed by the individuals increased from 11.7% in 2019 to 18.9% in 2020, which seems to reflect a high interest by individuals in waste from disposable plastics after COVID-19.

<Trend of applications filed by applicant type (from 2016 to 2021)>

Since LG Chemical filed 24 cases, they took the first ranking for the filing of applications, next came Samyang with 15 cases, and Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology took third with 14 cases. LOTTE Chemical Corporation filed 14 applications, KINGFA SCI. & TECH. CO., LTD. filed 12 cases and lastly BASF filed 9 cases. This ranking shows that corporations and research institutes are actively trying to secure patent rights.

<Status of applicants who filed multiple applications (from 2016 to 2021)>

As for the raw material for biodegradable plastics used by the main applicants (ranking numbers 1 to 6) in the recent 4 year period (2016 ~ 2019), ester groups took half: 47 applications related to ester groups were filed (60.3 %); 16 cases for carbonate groups (20.5%); mixed series, which is a mix of ester and carbonate series, got 5 cases (6.4%) and other materials took 10 cases (12.8%).

<Status of applications filed by technology among the main applicants (1st to 6th rankings) (from 2016 to 2019)>

By applicant nationality, while domestic applicants filed 51.7% of their applications in relation to ester groups, foreigners filed 88.9%. This shows that foreign corporations’ technical development is focused on ester groups.

<Status of technology filed by foreigners among the main applicants (ranking 1 to 6) (from 2016 to 2019)>

The percentage of such domestic filings is gradually increasing year by year (31.3% in 2016, 53.8% in 2017, 40.0% in 2018 and 71.4% in 2019), so the technical development trend of domestic corporations is, as with foreign corporations, focused on ester groups as well.

<Status of technology filed in domestic applications by the main applicants (ranking 1 to 6) (from 2016 to 2019)>

Along with the recent dramatic increase in plastic waste due to COVID-19, reinforced regulations worldwide on the use of disposable plastics will emphasize the necessity of eco-friendly plastics.

[Source: KIPO]


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