Korean companies are distinguishing themselves in securing essential patents related to the commercialization of graphene. An increasing number are succeeding in the development of graphene semiconductor technology, purification of graphite for the production of the material, manufacturing transparent display panels using graphene and the like to dominate the global market in advance.
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According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office, a total of 2,921 graphene-related patents have been applied for in Korea between 2005 and June 2013. By year, the number had stood at just three and seven in 2005 and 2006 each, but increased to 56 in 2008 and 204 in 2009. During the following three years, it soared to 423, 731, and then 954. The number has reached 507 in the first half of this year alone.
93% of the total have been applied for by Korean individuals and organizations. Back in 2005, the number of such patents was zero, but the percentage topped 70% in 2007 as businesses and colleges concentrated their efforts on technological development. In June this year, the percentage reached 97%. Subsidiaries of the Samsung Group such as Samsung Electronics, Samsung SDI, Samsung Techwin, and Samsung Electro-Mechanics have taken up the largest part, with the first applying for 225 graphene-related patents. They have been followed by LG Group subsidiaries (180 patents in total), SungKyunKwan University (147), the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (129), and the Seoul National University R&DB Foundation (78). Of the non-Korean entities, the Semiconductor Energy Laboratory of Japan has topped the list by applying for 11 patents.
57% of the patents have been associated with the development of nanodevices, e.g. optical and electronic devices, secondary batteries, and solar cells. And 38% have been related to nanomaterials like nanopowder materials, nanostructures, and high-functional materials. Meanwhile, the ratio of nanoprocesses (patterning, chemical processing and the like) and nanobiotech and nanomedical technologies have remained at 3% and 2%, respectively.
1,095 out of the 2,921 patents have been related to the application field of optical and electronic devices such as displays, memory, and semiconductors, followed by nanopowder materials (697), rechargeable batteries (170), solar cells (127), and nanostructures (115). At present, Korean companies are considered to have an international comparative advantage in the nanodevice field in particular.