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Patent Application on NFTs and Metaverse has increased 5.3 and 2.8 times, respectively

Patent Application on Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and Contents related to Expanded Virtual World (Metaverse) has increased 5.3 and 2.8 times, respectively, compared to the previous year

Since Covid-19, as the expanded virtual world (Metaverse)* is on the spotlight as the next future market due to the society accelerating towards being remote and digital, patent application on Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)** and contents related to the Metaverse have increased significantly.

* Expanded virtual world (Metaverse) is a portmanteau of meta and universe, meaning transcendence and the world. It is a three-dimensional virtual world in which social, economic, and cultural activities are performed through a fusion of non-fungible tokens (NFT), content, displays and operating systems.

** Non-fungible tokens (NFT) are a means to store assets in the expanded virtual world (Metaverse), and it is a technology that enables digital files to become an asset by permanently storing digital file ownership records and transaction records in a blockchain.

According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), filing of patents related to the Metaverse have increased at an annual rate of 24%, in average, over the past 10 years (2012 – 2021), and, especially in 2021, total of 1,828 applications were filed, which was approximately twice the number filed in the previous year.

<Domestic Application Trend related to Expanded Virtual World (Metaverse) (2012~2022)>

Filing for the applications related to NFTs on digital asset management, authentication, security, etc. has started to take on since 2017 and has increased at an annual rate of 143%, on average, over the past 5 years (2017 – 2021). Especially in 2021, the number of applications filed skyrocketed as it was approximately 5.3 times the number filed in the previous year.

In addition, filing of the applications related to Metaverse content, such as entertainment, learning, shopping, fashion, health, and games, showed a high compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37% from 2017 to 2021, and in 2021, the increase was over 2.8 folds.

This trend seems to be a result of concerns over digital assetization leading to the filing, as Korean content (K-content) such as popular music, soap-operas, and games, which have grown to be a part of mainstream culture around the world, expanded to the metaverse content.

Looking in to categories by technology field (2012-2021), there were 3,221 cases for operating systems for building a virtual world, accounting for 47% of the total application volume, while 2,292 cases (33%) for content, 961 cases (14%) for displays, and 397 cases (6%) for non-fungible tokens (NFT) were filed, respectively.

<Application Trend by Technology related to Expanded Virtual World (Metaverse) (2012~2022)>

In addition to the growth in NFT and contents filings, applications for networks, for supporting operating systems, and AI avatar technology grew by 16.2%, and display technology for enhancing immersion and sensory interaction grew by 15.2%.

This means the Metaverse is evolving by service plots (scenarios) provided through virtual space, namely, with the business model and the development of hardware and software to support it.

By nationality of applicants (2012-2021), Koreans filed 6,460 cases (94%), which was much greater than the 411 cases filed by foreigners (6%).

<Trend by Applicants for Applications related to Expanded Virtual World (Metaverse) (2012~2022)>

While foreign applications have started to decrease from 2019, domestic applications have increased at an average annual rate of 53.7%, showing that Korean companies are strategically preparing for the digital economy era by preoccupying Metaverse technologies.

Also, Samsung Electronics (262 cases), Korea Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (132 cases), and LG Electronics (66 cases) were listed on the multi-applications list, which seems that companies and research institutes having strengths in information and communication technology are actively seeking to secure patent rights related to the Metaverse.

<Status of Applicants filing Multiple Applications related to Expanded Virtual World (Metaverse) (2012~2022)>

Meanwhile, KIPO launched the “NFT Intellectual Property (IP) Expert Consultation Group” in January of 2022 to analyze the impact of NFTs on intellectual property and to discover various issues, and an in-depth review of systems to be improved and ways to utilize NFTs in patent administration is underway at KIPO.

[Source: KIPO]


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