Last year saw a sharp rise in global blockchain-related patent applications, according to the South Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO).
In a data report released Wednesday, the government agency said the number of blockchain patent applications from the five most advanced countries and regions – the U.S., EU, China, Japan and South Korea – totalled 1,248 in 2017.
Although the number may not be as high as those seen in other fields of industry, the KIPO drew attention to the notable growth rate of blockchain applications in recent years.
In comparison, the agency indicated that the yearly filing totals from 2013 to 2016 were 27, 98, 258 and 594, respectively. Combined, that's less than the applications filed in 2017 alone.
Also notably, there's a significant skew towards the U.S. and China, with data showing that the two nations account for 78 percent of all the 1,248 applications last year.
While the KIPO did not disclose the exact breakdown for each country, it said the U.S. currently ranks first in cumulative numbers. China, though, has been surpassing the U.S. since 2016 in annual patent applications.
"It is expected that China will take the first place in cumulative number of cases soon," the report states.
Also apparent in the data, is that the U.S. is seeing keen patenting efforts from major financial institutions such as banks, which lend a 16.3 percent weight to the country's filings in total. Among them, Bank of America takes the top spot, according to the KIPO's figures.
In fact, by August of last year, Bank of America had already filed at least 30 known patent applications related to blockchain in total. As reported by CoinDesk, in February 2017 alone, the U.S. banking giant submitted nine applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.