Global Patents Soar Again As China Tops Patent, Trademark, Design Filings 06/12/2017 by Peter Kenny for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Innovators around the world filed 3.1 million patent applications in 2016, up 8.3 percent in a seventh straight yearly increase, WIPO’s annual World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report shows. The report, WIPO’s annual report, released at the United Nations in Geneva today, showed China topping patent, trademark and design filings in 2016, the latest data available. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and WIPO Chief Economist Carsten Fink on 6 Dec. 2017. Photo: Peter Kenny “The latest figures charting a rise in demand for intellectual property rights confirm a decade-long trend, where developments in China increasingly leave their mark on the worldwide totals,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry told journalists. “China is increasingly amongst the leaders in global innovation and branding,” he said, noting, “the numbers from China are quite extraordinary.” Worldwide filings for patents, trademarks and industrial designs reached record heights in 2016 spurred by soaring demand in China, which received more patent applications than the combined total for the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Patent Office. The WIPO chief said that this is seventh straight year of growth for patents and trademarks which is “quite extraordinary … because compared to growth in the world economy that is a very different picture.” Gurry said, “It is an indicator of the knowledge economy and this an area where industry is focussed around the world.” He observed that patent applications are an indicator of innovative output, but the innovation ecosystem is quite complex and involves a number of factors, while noting that WIPO is dealing with patent applications. “They are a good indicator but not the only indicator of innovative output,” Gurry said. Meanwhile, trademark applications jumped by 16.4 percent to about 7 million, and worldwide industrial design applications grew by 10.4 percent to almost 1 million – both also driven by growth in China. Internationalisation of Intellectual Property Gurry said: “Filing abroad reflects the internationalisation of intellectual property protection and the desire to commercialise technology in foreign markets.” Patents for which applicants seek international protection are likely to have a higher value, considering the substantial cost of patenting, said WIPO. For the first time, WIPO has collected data on geographical indications (GIs) – signs used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. Examples are, say, gruyère for cheese, champagne for wine products, or tequila for spirits, and increasingly, types of coffee. The data cover 54 national and regional authorities, which reported around 42,500 protected GIs. In addition, WIPO has collected new data from IP offices on certain dimensions of their operational performance, including the size of their examiner workforce, application pendency times and patent examination outcomes. Among other things, these data show that the examination capacity of most IP offices has grown in line with the number of patent applications they have received. Trademarks When it came to trademarks there were an estimated 7 million applications covering 9.77 million classes filed worldwide in 2016, 16.4 percent more applications than in 2015, marking the seventh straight year of growth. “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,” observed Gurry. Once again, the office of China had the highest volume of filing activity with a class count of around 3.7 million, followed by the US (545,587), Japan (451,320), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) (369,970), and India (313,623). Among the top five offices, China (with an increase of 30.8 percent), Japan (+30.8 percent) and India (+8.3 percent) reported solid annual growth. Other offices among the top 20 with strong growth were Russia (+14.8 percent), the U.K. (+19.1 percent) and Vietnam (+21.1 percent). Switzerland had a relatively high proportion (77 percent) of filing activity by applicants based in the country, the United States (46 percent), Germany (45 percent), the Netherlands (44 percent) and Sweden (42 percent) seeking protection in jurisdictions outside their respective home countries. In contrast, some 95 percent of all filing activity by China-based applicants was in China, with only 5 percent attributed to those seeking protection abroad. Trademarks associated with advertising and business management accounted for 10.5 percent of all global trademark filing activity in 2016, followed by computers, software and instruments (6.9 percent), education and entertainment (5.8 percent) and clothing (5.7 percent). There were an estimated 39.1 million active trademark registrations worldwide, of which 12.4 million were active in China alone, followed by 2.1 million in the US, 1.9 million in Japan, 1.3 million in India, and 1.1 million in Mexico. China’s State Intellectual Property Office China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) received the highest number of patent applications in 2016, a record total of 1.3 million. It was followed by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) (605,571), the Japan Patent Office (JPO) (318,381), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) (208,830) and the European Patent Office (EPO) (159,358). On a per-capita basis, patent filings in China ranked behind those in Germany, Japan, South Korea and the US. The top five offices accounted for 84 percent of the world total. Among the top five offices, China (+21.5 percent) and the US (+2.7 percent) saw growth in filings, while the EPO (-0.4 percent), Japan (-0.1 percent) and South Korea (-2.3 percent) received fewer applications in 2016 than in 2015. Germany (67,899), India (45,057), Russia (41,587), Canada (34,745) and Australia (28,394) also featured among the top 10 offices. Asia’s share of all applications filed worldwide has inexorably increased from 49.7 percent in 2006 to 64.6 percent in 2016, primarily driven by strong growth in filings in China. Offices located in Asia received just over 2 million applications. Filing Abroad Still when it comes to filing abroad, US residents continue to lead. US residents filed more than four times as many patent applications abroad (215,918) as Chinese residents (51,522). The United States was followed by Japan (191,819), Germany (75,378) and South Korea (69,945). Among large middle-income countries of origin, Brazil, India, Malaysia, Mexico and South Africa, with the most in Africa, have a high proportion of applications abroad as a share of total applications – ranging from 27.3 percent for Brazil to 47.5 percent for India. The bulk of filings abroad from these countries were destined for the United States. Of the 11.8 million patents in force worldwide in 2016, 2.8 million were in force in the US, 2 million in Japan and 1.8 million in China. The WIPI includes data on the rate of women’s participation in resident patent applications at national/regional offices, using a name-recognition technology developed by WIPO. It shows comparatively high rates in Russia (38.7 percent of resident patent applications containing at least one woman), Mexico (36.4 percent), the US (27.5 percent), Spain (24.6 percent), and Brazil (24.5 percent). These countries have a high share of total filings relating to life sciences such as biology, which show higher rates of woman participation than other branches of science and technology. Industrial Design Global industrial design filing activity in 2016 grew by 10.4 percent to an estimated 963,100 applications containing 1.2 million designs. Design counts worldwide grew by 8.3 percent, driven primarily by strong growth in China. The office of China received applications containing 650,344 designs in 2016, matching 52 percent of the world total. It was followed by the EUIPO (104,522), the KIPO (69,120), Germany (56,188), and Turkey (46,305). Among the top 20 offices, the fastest growth in design counts occurred in Iran (+34.8 percent), followed by Ukraine (+17.4 percent), China (+14.3 percent) and the US (+12.1 percent). A high proportion of designs in applications filed by applicants based in Switzerland (84.2 percent), Sweden (66.8 percent) and the US (55.8 percent) were for protection abroad, while applicants from China, India and Iran mostly sought protection within their respective domestic markets. Designs related to furnishings accounted for 10.8 percent of all filings, followed by those related to clothing (8.6 percent) and to packages and containers (7.3 percent). The total number of industrial designs in force worldwide grew by 6 percent to reach 3.6 million. Around 1.36 million were in force in China, followed by South Korea (338,234), the U.S. (307,018), Japan (250,819) and the EUIPO (194,781). The WIPO press release on the indicators report is available here. 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