According to the data from the Korean Intellectual Property Office on March 21, the number of blockchain-related patents filed in the world’s top five regions in intellectual property – South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and the European Union – stood at 1,248 by the end of January.
By country, the U.S. currently ranks first in cumulative numbers with 497 patents, followed by China with 472, South Korea with 99, Japan with 36, Canada with 25 and the United Kingdom with 15.
However, China has been surpassing the U.S. since 2016 in annual patent applications. It is also expected that China will take the first place in cumulative number of cases soon.
In addition, there's a significant skew towards the U.S. and China, with data showing that the two nations account for 78 percent of all the 1,248 applications last year. On the other hand, South Korea and China, which came in third and fourth, have a mere 8 and 3 percent share, respectively.
In terms of overseas applications, an index for the innovativeness of the patents, the U.S. accounted for 45 percent with 224 patents, while China only held 3 percent with 14 patents. The U.S. tend to file overseas patents, while China focuses on the local market.
About 81 percent of patents filed are from business. Also apparent in the data, is that the U.S. is seeing keen patenting efforts from major financial institutions such as banks. On the other hand, South Korea shows that its venture and small and mid-size companies account for 66.7 percent of all patent applications related to blockchain, while conglomerates only account for 6.1 percent and financial institutions 0 percent.
South Korea has a relatively high number of patents in the cryptocurrency trading sector so it needs to redirect research and development (R&D) investment to various service areas, such as smart contract, the Internet of Things (IoT), voting and healthcare, in the future, just like the U.S. and China.