SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korean firms saw the number of patent disputes with overseas rivals rise in the first half from a year earlier, data showed Wednesday, casting clouds over the export-reliant country's economy.
The number of patent litigations between local and foreign firms came to 210 cases in the January-June period, posting a sharp increase from 91 cases tallied a year earlier, the Korean Intellectual Property Office's data showed.
Market watchers said the number is poised to reach an all-time high level this year, as the first-half figure has already hovered around 224 cases in 2012 and 280 cases in 2011.
The information and communication sector accounted for 43.3 percent of the cases tallied in the first half of 2013, trailed by the technology sector with 34.8 percent, the data also showed.
Conglomerates took up 79 percent of the total, followed by small- and medium-sized firms with 20 percent. The remaining cases were held by individuals and research institutes.
While South Korean firms were involved in 1,235 patent disputes from 2008 to June of this year, the number of cases they filed against foreign companies hovered far above those filed against them.
South Korean firms filed 1,015 lawsuits against overseas companies over the cited period, while foreign firms accused local companies of doing something wrong in 220 cases.
The United States accounted for 71.4 percent of local firms' global patent disputes, trailed by Japan with 9.3 percent. Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland were also among the major opponents in the patent litigations.
Market watchers said the increase in the global patent row may deal a harsh blow to the export-oriented South Korean economy as major countries are also looking for protective trade policies amid the prolonged slump in the global economy.