February 17, 2022

Korea ranks 4th in the world in the number of PCT applications for the second consecutive year

Commissioner Kim Yong Rae of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that the total number of international patent applications filed by Korean companies under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)* of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), or "PCT applications," increased over the previous year. This puts Korea’s global ranking at 4th** place for the second year in a row.

* In accordance with the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), submission of one patent application to WIPO allows an applicant to simultaneously seek protection in multiple countries.
** Korea's ranking for the total number of PCT applications: 5th (2010-2019) → 4th (2020-2021)

Despitethe COVID-19 pandemic, Korea was able to show the highest rate of increase (3.2%) in total PCT applications filed in 2021 among the top five countries, including China, the United States, Japan, and Germany.

The number of PCT applications is significant as it is used as an indicator to measure and rank a country's overall capacity of innovation in the Bloomberg Innovation Index (Korea ranked 1st in 2021) and annual publication of the Global Innovation Index (GII)*. Korea ranks 5th in the overall GII in 2021.

* Global Innovation Index (GII) is a annual ranking of countries by their capacity for innovation of innovation published by highly reliable organizations such as WIPO and Institut Europeen d'Administration des Affaires (INSEAD). In 2021, the index used 81 indices to evaluate 132 countries.

In particular, Korean companies, such as Samsung Electronics (3rd) and LG Electronics (4th), were among the top ten companies with the largest amount of PCT applications, proving once again that Korea is among the leaders in international patent application filing.

Additionally, there has been a remarkable increase in the total number of international trademark applications under the Madrid Protocol* of WIPO, or "Madrid applications," filed by Korean applicants.

* In accordance with the Madrid Protocol, submission of one application to WIPO allows an applicant to simultaneously seek protection for a trademark in multiple countries.

In 2021, Korean applicants filed the 11th largest amount of Madrid applications in the world with a total of 1,973 applications. The rate of increase has been rapidly accelerating with 9% in 2019, 13% in 2020, and finally 24% in 2021, which significantly surpasses global rate of increase* of Madrid application filings.

* Global rate of increase of Madrid application filings: 5.7% (2019) → -0.6% (2020) → 14.4% (2021)

As evidenced by such achievements, KIPO has been aiding and supporting the effort by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to secure their intellectual property rights overseas as they expand abroad. Furthermore, KIPO is continuously advocating to have a WIPO external office established in Korea so that Korean applicants including Korean companies have access to real-time consulting services regarding WIPO's international application services such as the PCT, Madrid and Hague system.

Director Yoon Sei-young of the Trade and Cooperation Division at KIPO expressed that these statistics clearly show that Korean companies, despite the hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic, are redoubling their efforts to internationally secure their intellectual property rights and protect their innovative efforts. Director Yoon added, "KIPO will continue its effort to build a harmonious international environment and provide various support so companies can protect their core technologies abroad as intellectual property rights."