Korea's patent competitiveness in the semiconductor sector is woefully weak despite its dominance in the global memory semiconductor market, the Korea Intellectual Property Strategy Agency (KISTA) said on April 3.
KISTA said in a report that the United States, Japan, and Europe dwarfed Korea in terms of patent influence. It also noted that Korea was far behind latecomers such as China in terms of the number of patent applications.
Korea placed near the bottom among major countries in terms of patent influence. In order to measure the impact of patents, KISTA surveyed citation rates of the patents registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office between 2013 and 2017. A patent’s citation rate indicates the level of its technological excellence. The United States had the highest citation rates in 24 major semiconductor technologies, followed by Japan with 10, the United Kingdom with seven, Taiwan with six and the Netherlands with five. Korea, on the other hand, had influence in only two areas –- specialized DRAM process and heat control devices in full processes.
As for patent applications during the same period, China filed the largest number of patent applications in 21 of 69 semiconductor technology fields while Taiwan led in eight technology fields. The United Kingdom and Switzerland ranked first in seven categories, Sweden in six and Korea in only one (target material category).
By company, Korean companies performed poorly in patent application scores. Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix were out of the top 10 in terms of patent registrations and influence over the past five years, although Samsung Electronics placed first with US$75.8 billion and SK Hynix third with US$36.4 billion in global semiconductor sales in 2018. Excluding Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, no Korean pre- and post-processing companies and academic organizations were included in the rankings.