The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) published a report earlier this week on global intellectual property (IP) activity in 2020. There are some very interesting findings in this report, that provide an insight on global economic activity and trends, as summarized below.
Marked Increase in Global IP Filing
In 2020 there was a marked increase in global filing of all forms of IP. The global filing included 3.3 million patent applications (1.6% increase over 2019), 3 million utility models (28% increase over 2019), 17.2 million trademark applications (14% increase over 2019) and 1.4 million industrial designs (2% increase over 2019). This is somewhat surprising seeing that 2020 experienced the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic with an initial, dramatic decline in economic activity.
Especially significant is the rise in trademark filing, which is directly tied to planned economic activity. It stands to reason that brand owners have a positive global economic perspective and decided to make increased use of existing brands and develop new ones.
Filing in Asian countries far exceeded any other region of the world with 69% of all intellectual property rights filings, including 72% of all trademarks, 67% of all patents, 98% of all utility models and 71% of all industrial designs global filings. This is a result, among other things, of the ongoing, growing, economic importance of this populous region and the growing awareness in Asia of the importance of IP rights for economic development.
China Reigns in Patents
China, as can be expected, is the leading player among Asian countries. First, China leads the world in the number of patent applications, with approximately 1.5 million, constituting 46% of the total number of applications filed globally. While most of these applications are by Chinese, judged by the number of applications filed by non-Chinese, China is the second most important target, after the US, for those wishing to patent protect their inventions outside their own country. In other words, China is the #2 country in international patent filing programs.
In regard to the number of patent applications that were filed, the US is second (after China) with approximately 600,000 applications (18% of the total), being trailed by Japan (9%) and Korea (7%). Interestingly, the number of applications filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) was only 5.5% of the total. Jointly, China, the US, Japan, Korea and the EPO attracted 85% of global patent filings.
China's role as a leading global player in the field of IP was also manifested in the filing of PCT (international) applications, with 68,764 of such applications originating from China. The US was second with 58,730 and Japan was third with 50,559 of PCT applications. It is interesting to note that out of the 10 leading filers of PCT applications, three are from China, with the Chinese firm Huawei being the #1 filer (5,464 PCT applications), three are from Japan and only one, Qualcomm, is from the US as the 5th largest PCT filer (2,173 PCT applications).
Israel ranked No. 15 as an originating country of patent applications. If judged on a per capita basis, Israel is one of the top global filers of patent applications.
The importance of Israel in the global IP arena is also manifested in that the Israel Patent Office is listed among the top 20 patent offices in the World.
As this report shows, global IP activity is shifting to Asia, and particularly to China. This is a consequence of the global, economic significance of this region and the immense importance placed by Asian, particularly Chinese, firms on IP as a source of growth and prosperity, manifested in local and global protection of their innovations.
Dr. Ilan Cohn is a founding partner at Cohn, de Vries, Stadler & Co. (www.cds-ip.cp.il)
Link to the report: https://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2021/article_0011.html
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