The number of new applications submitted to the country's copyright agency for coffee-related products and brands surged in 2012 from four years earlier, data showed Wednesday.
Around 1,100 coffee-related trademark applications were filed in 2012, rising sharply from an annual figure of 300 cases tallied in 2008, according to the Korean Intellectual Property Office.
Market watchers said the increase came as more individuals started their own coffee businesses amid the rising popularity of the drink in South Korea.
Among the combined number of 6,444 coffee-related copyrights, individuals accounted for 4,096 cases, or 63.5 percent. Local firms followed with 25.6 percent, and foreign companies with 9.8 percent.
By company, Dongsuh Food Corp. held 120 copyrights, followed by Namyang Dairy Products Co. with 90 cases. Starbucks Coffee Korea Co., the South Korean unit of Starbucks, held 140 patents in the local property office.
South Korea imported a record 130,000 tons of coffee in 2011, up from 117,000 tons a year earlier, the Korea Customs Service said in a report.