The rising tide of seaweed patents

Seaweed, once considered a humble marine plant, has emerged as a powerhouse of innovation across diverse industries. From culinary delights to environmental solutions, the versatility of seaweed continues to inspire groundbreaking inventions and drive patent filings worldwide.

Let’s delve deeper into the many applications relating to seaweed which are sculpting the patent landscape.


According to the World intellectual Property Office (WIPO), the past decade has witnessed a surge in patent filings relating to seaweed. This underscores the growing global interest in harnessing the potential of this marine resource.

Since 2015, over 15,000 patents related to seaweed have been published, reflecting the breadth and depth of innovation across various industries. The lion’s share of seaweed-related patent activity originates from Asia, where countries like China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan are at the forefront of seaweed research and development.

China leads the charge with an impressive 9,148 patent applications, leveraging its vast coastline and research infrastructure to drive seaweed related innovations. Following closely behind is the Republic of Korea, with 2,253 applications, and Japan with 1,551. The year of 2017 stands out as a watershed moment for seaweed innovation, witnessing a record number of published patent applications related to seaweed.

This surge in patent activity signals a significant uptick in investment, research and commercialization efforts within the seaweed industry, as stakeholders recognise its immense potential to address pressing global challenges, from food security to environmental sustainability. As countries continue to prioritise research and development in seaweed technologies, the future holds promise for even greater breakthroughs and applications, driving positive impact across sectors and communities worldwide.


Food and drink: In the realm of food and beverage, seaweed’s journey is nothing short of remarkable. Traditionally a staple in Asian cuisines, seaweed has transcended cultural boundaries to become a global culinary phenomenon. Its savoury flavour, unique texture, and nutritional richness has sparked a surge in patents for seaweed-based food products and additives. From seaweed snacks to gourmet condiments, the culinary world is embracing seaweed’s potential with open arms.

Health and wellness: Beyond the kitchen, seaweed holds promise as a source of health and wellness. With its abundance of bioactive compounds, seaweed is a treasure trove of potential pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. Patents in this domain explore the therapeutic properties of seaweed extracts, targeting a range of health conditions from inflammation to metabolic disorders. From supplements to functional foods, seaweed is paving the way for natural alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals.

Environmental and cleantech: Seaweed’s ecological significance extends beyond its culinary and medicinal uses. As a champion of bioremediation, seaweed plays a crucial role in environments stewardship. Patents in this field focus on harnessing seaweed’s natural filtration capabilities to clean up contaminated water bodies, mitigate harmful algal blooms, and restore ecosystem balance. From wastewater treatment to coastal restoration. Seaweed-based bioremediation technologies offer sustainable solutions to pressing environmental challenges.

Biofuels: In the quest for sustainable energy sources, seaweed emerges as a promising candidate for biofuel production. With its rapid growth rate and high biomass yield, seaweed offers a renewable alternative to fossil fuels. Patents in biofuel production explore innovative processes for converting seaweed biomass into bioethanol, biodiesel and biogas, powering the transition to a greener future while reducing carbon emissions and dependence on finite resources.

Beauty: Seaweed’s skincare benefits are garnering attention in the cosmetics and personal care industry. Patents in this realm focus on harnessing seaweed extracts’ moisturising, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties for skincare, haircare, and beauty products. From rejuvenating creams to nourishing shampoos, seaweed-infused formulations offer natural solutions for healthier skin and hair, tapping into the ocean’s bounty for beauty.

Bioplastics: In the battle against plastic pollution, seaweed-based bioplastics offer a sustainable alternative to conventional plastics derived from fossil fuels. Patents in this field, explore novel formulations and manufacturing processes for seaweed-derived biodegradable plastics, paving the way for eco-friendly packaging materials, disposable cutlery and single-use plastics that break down harmlessly in the environment.

Agriculture: Seaweed’s agricultural applications are gaining traction in the realm of agritech. Patents in this domain highlight seaweed extracts’ role as organic fertilizers and soil conditioners, enhancing soil health, nutrient uptake, and crop resilience. From improving yield to reducing environmental impact, seaweed-based solutions offer sustainable alternatives to traditional agricultural practices, fostering a more resilient and regenerative food system.

Nourishing livestock and aquaculture: Seaweed’s nutritional value extends to livestock and aquaculture feed supplements, promoting animal health and productivity while reducing environmental footprint. Patents in this sector focus on formulating seaweed-based feeds to enhance growth, immune function, and product quality in livestock and aquatic species. From reducing methane emissions to enhancing seafood quality, seaweed-based feeds play a vital role in sustainable animal agriculture.


In conclusion, seaweed’s multifaceted applications and sustainable attributes position it as a valuable resource for addressing a myriad of global challenges.

From nourishing bodies to rejuvenating ecosystems, seaweed embodies the essence of innovation and sustainability. As research and investment in seaweed technologies continue to grow, the future holds promise for even more transformative discoveries and applications.

If you would like to discuss how best to identify, protect, exploit, and enforce your seaweed innovations, please contact us today.