SEOUL, July 6 (Korea Bizwire) – As public interest in eyewear continues to grow, the number of patent applications is increasing for functional sunglasses, which cater to unique needs ranging from protection from fine dust particles to detachable sunglasses.
According to figures released by the Korea Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) on Wednesday, the number of patent applications for sunglasses featuring special functionality submitted over the past five years increased by 35 percent compared to the previous five years, with 64 patents approved.
Some of the popular features of functional sunglasses include blocking harmful light and UV rays, or blocking substances that are harmful to eye health such as strong wind or foreign objects, while detachable sunglasses allow the wearer to change lenses for different occasions.
Among the patent applications submitted in the past five years for harmful light blocking sunglasses, there were 84 that made use of mirror coatings, while 67 featured polarized lenses and 35 were for photochromic sunglasses.
Mirrored sunglasses, with a reflective optical coating that makes lenses appear like mirrors, can reflect sunlight, and are particularly popular among young consumers as many celebrities have been seen sporting them.
When it came to sunglasses blocking harmful substances, patents for goggle-type sunglasses dominated, accounting for 181.
Goggle-type sunglasses are recommended for cyclists and runners as their unique design allows the sunglasses to hug the eyes closer, providing extra protection against wind.
In response to growing concerns over the harmful effects of fine dust particles and yellow dust, there has also been an increase in the number of patent applications for dustproof sunglasses, according to the KIPO.
Some of the major eyewear firms with the largest number of patents in the South Korean functional sunglasses market include French lens maker Essilor, South Korean company OGK, and the 3M Company.
“In terms of price and brand awareness, South Korean sunglasses makers are stuck between high-end brands and affordable Chinese makers. For South Korean companies to be more competitive, they need to focus on design and technology development in order to cater to consumer tastes and needs,” Lee Jung-sook, a department head at the KIPO said.
Hyunsu Yim (email@example.com)