Why Blockchain Patent Filings in South Korea Suddenly Spiked by 50x in 4 Years
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), blockchain patent filings have increased significantly in recent months.
Patents rise from 24 to 1,301 in 4 years
On July 7, the agency said that the number of blockchain-related patents rose from 24 in 2015 to 1,301 in 2019. The majority of patents filed last year were attributed to university research centers and medium-size companies.
In 2019, the government of South Korea acknowledged blockchain technology as a core technology in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It started to provide grants and benefits to companies developing blockchain-based platforms and technologies.
The South Korean government’s pro-blockchain stance fueled the massive increase in demand for blockchain patents in the past year. The establishment of special economic zones by regional governments to support blockchain businesses further bolstered the sentiment around the blockchain industry,
In recent months, the number of blockchain patents approved by the KIPO spiked substantially even more so. An executive at the agency attributed it to the shift in major trends following the pandemic.
Ahn Byung-il, the head of patents at the Communication Review Division of the KIPO, said trends are shifting towards digital. As consumers and businesses demonstrate growing demand for digital products, Ahn said that he expects more businesses to file blockchain patents.
“Even after the recovery from the pandemic, non-face-to-face working environment and services will increase, and security threats will increase as a result. Blockchain-based certification and security-related patents are expected to increase in the future.”
Whether blockchain technology is sufficiently efficient to handle large amounts of data that is required by large-scale platforms remains an uncertainty. Various pilot tests and applications are being run by both private companies and government agencies in Seoul and Busan.
Major South Korean companies are initiating blockchain projects
Since last year, South Korea’s largest conglomerates have increasingly geared towards blockchain projects. The number of businesses experimenting with cryptocurrencies as a means of payment has also increased.
Most recently, South Korean telecom giant Sejong Telecom said it is implementing blockchain technology in the real estate market.
According to mainstream publication Chosun, Sejong Telecom has been approved to operate in Busan’s blockchain special zone. Busan, South Korea’s second-biggest city, has continuously encouraged blockchain development since mid-2019.
The city’s blockchain special zone provides companies working on blockchain-related projects with various benefits.
An executive at Sejong Telecom said:
“Through a demonstration business, we will transparently operate a fund to be acknowledged as a company using the integrity of blockchain technology.”
Industry experts anticipate that the growing number of patents and blockchain-using businesses might eventually cause mainstream awareness to grow.
But, blockchain projects in South Korea are primarily focused on the technology itself rather than cryptocurrencies.
As an example, Busan is actively exploring the possibility of issuing a local digital currency based on the blockchain for local merchants. Unlike public and decentralized cryptocurrencies, it would give the government some control over the currency, essentially like a central bank digital currency.
A confluence of the growing support from local governments for blockchain businesses and a shift in consumer trends from offline to digital is seemingly triggering an increase in appetite for blockchain initiatives in South Korea.
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