Although the government budget for R&D keeps increasing every year, with a corresponding increase in the number of patents, the quality level of these patents, including the proportion of outstanding patents, is very low. Furthermore, as the proportion of creative patents and the usability of patents are also very low, the balance of intellectual property rights fees has been negative for several decades.
According to data of the Korean Intellectual Property Office released on Oct. 7, the number of patents followed by government R&D businesses kept increasing from 14,131 cases in 2008 to 22,933 cases in 2012. Among the total number of patents applied for by Koreans, government R&D patents accounted for 11.1 percent in 2008, which increased to 15.5 percent in 2012.
Patent productivity (the number of patents per 1 billion won of R&D expenditure) has been 1.20 to 1.44 cases, 4 to 5 times higher than universities and public research institutions in Japan, the U.S., and Canada (0.2 to 0.48 cases) for the last five years.
However, the problems are the low quality performance of government R&D patents and a lack of superb patents.
Especially, private and foreign-owned patents accounted for 4.5 percent and 27.3 percent of superior patents, respectively, based on the Patent Quality Index (PQI), but government R&D patents were only 3.6 percent. Among all patents in Korea, 23 percent were superior ones (based on SMART analysis), but only 16.4 percent were from government R&D.
Government R&D patents had low utilization as well. Professionals performed qualitative analysis on the government R&D patents in 2012, and they found out that only 1.4 percent of them were creative, and 0.6 percent had high inter-technology compatibility.