Trademark applications grew a remarkable 16.4% world-wide last year to nearly 7,000,000 world-wide, followed by design-rights applications (up 10.4%) and patent filings (up 8.3%), according to the World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report just released. Much of this growth in demand for IP protection has been seen in filings in China by Chinese entities, but other IP offices have also experienced growth in filings from domestic and foreign companies and individuals.
“The number of trademarks being sought around the world has increased three-fold since 2001, reflecting the importance of protecting branding assets in today’s business environment,” said Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which published the report.
China, the US, Japan, the EU IP Office and India were the top picks for trademark filings world-wide, with applicants based in Switzerland (77%), the US (46%), Germany (45%), the Netherlands (44%) and Sweden (42%) taking the lead in seeking trademark protection outside their home countries. By contrast, 95% of all filing activity by China-based applicants was in China – which saw the bulk of the world’s growth in trademark filings last year (up to 3.7 million) – but only 5% of Chinese applicants sought trademarks abroad.
Similar growth patterns were seen in patent filings. US residents continue to lead in filing patents outside their own country (four times as many as Chinese residents), followed by Japan, Germany, and the Republic of Korea. Chinese patent filings were up 21.5% to 1.3 million, largely attributable to domestic applicants, and patent applications in the US (605,000) also grew last year. The European Patent Office, Japan and the Republic of Korea each had somewhat fewer patent filings in 2016.
Industrial design applications hit nearly 1 million world-wide last year, again driven by strong growth in China (650,344 applications, or 52% of the world total). This was followed by design applications filed in the EU IPO (104,522), the Korea IPO (69,120), Germany (56,188) and Turkey (46,305). Among the top 20 offices, the fastest growth in design rights applications occurred in Iran (+34.8%), followed by Ukraine (+17.4%), China (+14.3%) and the U.S. (+12.1%).
“We continue to see extraordinary growth in the use of intellectual property, and growth that is way beyond that which we’re seeing in economies around the world,” said Gurry. “We see Asia and China in particular as increasingly important players in this area. China is using intellectual property strategically as part of their policy of creating a more innovation-based and value-added economy.”