prodigious trade mark filings, Huawei was the only brand
listed in InterBrand Global 100 list
If you guessed China, you would be correct. Given its much
discussed position as the world’s patent filer,
this may not be particularly surprising. However, the China
Trademark Office’s (CTMO) position as the
world’s busiest trade mark office is still worth
noting, if in part for the sheer volume involved.
According to the World Intellectual
Property Indicators report published by WIPO today, the
CTMO had a class count of 1.88 million in 2013 (Many parts of
the report count an application multiple times for each class
it covers in order to harmonise the data, as some countries do
not allow for multi-class applications).
The office in second place is the USPTO with a class count of
approximately 486,000, roughly one fourth of
China’s. OHIM came in third with slightly less
than 325,000 and France was fourth with nearly 300,000.
If we look at trade marks registered, China holds a similar
lead with approximately 1.02 million in 2013. OHIM is second
with less than 281,000 and the US is third with approximately
By contrast, SIPO had slightly more than 825,000
patent applications, while the US was in second place with
nearly 572,000. Japan had more than 328,000, while
Korea was in fourth place with more than 204,000.
What is it good for?
Thus, if China is winning the so-called
patent filing war, then it has routed the
opposition when it comes to trade mark filings. However, much
like how there are still questions about the significance of
China achieving its goal to be the world’s biggest
patent filer, it is unclear what it means to be the biggest
filer and granter of trade marks.
For example, despite the fact that one of stated goals in
China’s National IP Strategy was to support and
world-renown Chinese brands, it is unclear whether it
actually succeeded on this point. In the past few years a few
brands have built up an international reputation, but for the
most part Chinese brands still appear to be punching below
their weight. For example, Interbrand’s list of
the 100 most valuable brands has only
one Chinese company, with Huawei listed at 94.
Drilling down slightly into WIPO’s data
partially confirms this: only 5% of filing activity (by class
count) originating from China was directed internationally. By
contrast, 46% of US-based filing activities was directed
abroad, meaning that US filers made approximately 130,000 more
applications than China by class count. Other countries with
strong brands, such as the UK (40%), Switzerland (75%) and
Italy (38%) are similarly internationally focused.
Some may say that China’s ambitions to nurture
internationally prominent brands are a two-step process; first
you come with the numbers and then you work on the quality.
Indeed, this appears to be the approach that it has taken with
patents, as it began a
pivot last year to focus more on quality rather than just
mere numbers. That said, it is unclear whether this is working
for trade marks; WIPO’s report points out that
China’s class count was already double that of the
US’s as far back as 2004.
Thus, while brand building may be a slow process, it seems
like Chinese companies may need some more time.
|Highlights and tidbits
from the 2014 World Intellectual Property Indicators
Madrid users' attitude towards to initial
class designations, North Korea’s
surprisingly busy patent office, and other interesting
data points from the WIPO report:
- The IP5 offices (EPO, JPO, Korea Patent Office,
SIPO and USPTO) account for 81% of all patent filings
- There were an estimated 978,000 utility model
applications in 2013, with nearly 900,000 going to
- A few surprises in the table of the 20 busiest
patent offices: Hong Kong (15th with 13,916
applications), Iran (16th with 11,643) and North
Korea (19th with 8,381).
- The USPTO was the top office in terms of patents
granted in 2013 with 277,835, edging out Japan
(277,079). China granted the third most patents with
over 207,000. In 2013, North Korea granted more
patents (6,550) than the UK (5,235).
- 17.5% of all Madrid registrations designate just
one initial classification, the most popular option.
The second most popular option are registrations with
more than 10 initial designations (16.7%)
- Agriculture, research and technology, and
clothing account for 45% of all trade mark
- Industrial design filings declined by 6.4%
between 2012 and 2013. In contrast 2011 to 2012 saw a