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Intellectual Property Filings Hit a Record High (593,000 cases) in 2021

Last year, intellectual property filings reached nearly 600,000 cases, a record high.


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and venture companies led the increase in applications, increasing by 11% compared to the previous year, which is interpreted as Korean companies actively securing intellectual property despite difficult economic conditions due to such as COVID-19.


The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that domestic intellectual property applications (for patents, utility models, designs, and trademarks) last year totaled 592,615 cases, an increase of 6.3% from the previous year.


Despite the prolonged COVID-19 situation, the average rate of increase (7.7%) for applications for the 2020-2021 period during the COVID-19 era significantly exceeded the 3.6% average rate of increase over the previous 10 years (2010-2019).



By type of right, trademarks, which showed a high rate of increase (10.8%) from the previous year, increased the most with 285,821 cases, and patents also showed their highest recent increase rate, increasing 5.0% to 237,998 cases.

* Trademark application increase rate: (2019) 10.6% → (2020) 16.4% → (2021) 10.8%

Patent application increase rate: (2019) 4.3% → (2020) 3.6% → (2021) 5.0%






By applicant type, it was found that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) led the increase in total intellectual property applications last year.


In 2021, a total of 183,796 applications were filed by small and medium-sized enterprises and venture enterprises, an 11% increase from the previous year, which is significantly higher than that for large companies (-0.8%), universities and public research institutes (6.1%), and individuals (4.3%).


In particular, venture companies filed a total of 62,845 applications, bringing the remarkable result of showing a 19.8% rate of increase, more than three times the overall average (6.3%).


In terms of patent applications, the number of filings for patent applications by venture companies is growing every year, and it is observed that efforts to create patents to secure an initial growth engine per the increase in technology-based start-ups have had an effect on the increase in applications.

* Venture patent applications (increase rate): (2018) 19.3 thousand cases (+1.9%) → (2019) 21.5 thousand cases (+11.5%) → (2020) 24.9 thousand cases (+15.4%) → (2021) 28.8 thousand cases (+15.6%)


Patent applications by foreigners were showing a declining trend since 2018, however rebounded sharply in 2021 (an increase of 11.7% compared to the previous year), contributing to the overall increase in applications.

* Trend by year for applications by foreigners: (2018) 47.8 thousand cases→ (2019) 47.5 thousand cases → (2020) 46.3 thousand cases → (2021) 51.7 thousand cases


By field, patent filings showed a high increase in technology fields such as artificial intelligence, mobile shopping, and video communication as the digital transformation accelerated.



In case of trademarks, the increase rate for service industries was 18.4%, which was more remarkable than that for the product category (5.4%), and looking at trend by field, the number of applications centered on service industries such as digital broadcasting and communications, software development, SNS, and online shopping malls increased significantly.




[Source: KIPO]

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