Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Wide World of Trademarks

As I was digging around recently for some information regarding worldwide trademark activity, I ran across the 2012 State of Trademark Report from Thomson CompuMark and got caught up in the reports and statistics of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  The Thomson report includes 2012 information covering 186 countries and registrars, and the WIPO reports are based on survey results from approximately 150 national and regional IP offices around the world regarding IP activity, including trademarks.  Complete WIPO statistics are only available through 2010; the 2012 reports are based on actual information for 2011 from about 100 offices and estimates for information not yet available.  WIPO also has a really cool searchable data base where you can find out things like how many applications were filed in Bhutan by German nationals in a given year.

Without including boring details (go to the sources for that), here is some information that I found interesting:

For the last several years, China has led the world in trademark activity (generally determined by the number of applications filed in that country).  The U.S. is second and rounding out the top five spots in 2012 (according to the Thomson report) were Brazil, Turkey and France.  (Germany was in Turkey’s place last year). 

German applicants filed the most applications worldwide (by class equivalents) based on 2011 WIPO data.  The majority of new applications filed by German applicants, as well as French and U.S. applicants, were filed abroad.  The bulk of applications filed by Chinese applicants were filed in China.  

Overall trademark activity has been more or less flat in the last couple of years, but is showing some signs of growth in a few countries, most notably the United Kingdom.

On a worldwide basis, the leading classification for new applications was 35 (Advertising and Business Management Services).  In second place was Class 25 for clothing.  Other biggies:  Class 5 (pharmaceuticals), 9 (scientific apparatus/equipment) and 41(educational services).  

China accounted for nearly 70% of the total volume of trademark applications in Class 25 for clothing and had nearly twice as many Class 5 applications (pharmaceuticals) as the U.S. 

The least active classifications on a worldwide basis have been 13 (firearms and ammunition), 15 (musical instruments) and 23 (yarns and threads for textile use).

About 1/3 of the total applications filed worldwide in the last couple of years have been for services, with higher percentages of service mark applications filed in such countries as Australia, Mexico, Turkey, U.K. and the U.S. and the highest percentages in France, Germany and Spain (over 50%).  Over 75% of the applications filed in China have been for goods.

The most recent WIPO information shows that countries such as Curacao, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, and Tonga, each had less than 200 trademark applications in 2011. 

The Thomson Report identifies the top ten companies with published marks as Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Nestle, LG, Unilever, Disney Enterprises, Procter& Gamble, Nissan, Sanofi and Philip Morris.

The data can be overwhelming, but the various charts and graphs in these materials do give a good picture of patterns and trends that can be useful in understanding today’s worldwide economy.

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