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World Intellectual Property Indicators 2012: Design Patent Highlights

Written by Tracy-Gene Durkin, Esq.
Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox

Posted: March 2, 2013 @ 10:45 am
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The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) publishes a yearly report of the worldwide intellectual property filings. World Intellectual Property Indicators 2012 estimates draw from approximately 133 Patent offices, and include direct national and regional applications and those received through the Hague system of international registration.

Design patent applications have experienced continuous growth for the past decade. Patent offices worldwide reported 344,700 new applications in 2004 and 775,700 in 2011. In the most recent years, the growth of design applications has accelerated, with a rate of 13.9% growth in 2010 and 16% in 2011. Of the top 20 origin countries, which are defined as the countries of residence of design patent applicants, nearly all saw growth in 2011. This trend reflects the overall growth of patents and trademarks, which reported a record year across the board. Despite economic uncertainty in recent years, IP growth has persisted.

China

In 2011, China accounted for all but 2.8% of design application growth worldwide. The State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO) received 521,468 design applications in 2011, more than the next twenty largest offices combined or 68% of the total share. In previous years, the top origin country was Germany. In 2011, residents of China and Germany filed the largest numbers of applications across the world with a combined total of around 1.1 million.

 

Growth in Middle-Income Countries

World Intellectual Property Indicators uses the World Bank income classifications, which divide economies into four groups according to gross national income per capita. Low-income is $1,025 or less; lower middle-income is $1,026 to $4,035; upper middle-income is $4,036 to $12,475, and high-income is categorized as $12,476 or more. Middle-income countries, including China, experienced the most substantial growth in 2011. Of the 20 largest offices, 9 are located in middle-income counties. Turkey received 41,218 filings, more than was received by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the Japan Patent Office (JPO), both located in high-income countries. Other middle-income countries with significant growth in 2011 include India (16.7%), Mexico (17.2%), and Ukraine (17.5%). Bulgaria recorded the fastest growth at 42.8%. As a result of the rapid growth of Chinese patent filings, the overall share of high-income countries decreased from 52.5% in 2004 to 24.5% in 2011. Lower middle-income and low-income countries account for fewer than 4% of all design applications.

 

Non-Resident Applications

Of the 775,700 industrial designs filed in 2011, 691,200 were resident applications and 84,500 were non-resident applications. Non-resident applications have reported a decline in the past few years, dropping from a 31.7% share of all design applications in 2001 to 10.9% in 2011. While a decrease in non-resident filings is certainly a worldwide trend, the significant drop in overall share is also a reflection of the considerable growth in Chinese resident registrations. The upper middle-income group had the lowest percentage of overall non-resident filings with 4.7%, while the high-income group, including the US, had a non-resident share of 24.6% of all applications. The United States had the largest non-resident share in 2011, with 42.5% of filings at the USPTO originating from other countries. The Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM) received the second highest number of design filings in 2011, with 87,225 applications. Its non-resident share was approximately 26.2%. In Germany, 23.3% of the design filings were non-resident.

 

Registrations

The number of design registrations issued over the past decade reflects the growth of design applications. The 416,500 registrations issued in 2008 increased to 651,700 in 2011. Growth at SIPO, which issued 238,689 more industrial design registrations in 2011 than in 2008, accounts for much of the overall increase. Like applications, the majority of registrations in 2011 were resident. The non-resident share of registrations in 2011 dropped to 11.5% from 32.8% in 2001. Spain and China saw the lowest non-resident share of registrations, with 2.3% and 3.6%, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, the offices of Monaco and Morocco reported non-resident shares of around 97%.

 

Designs in Force

In 2011, more than 2.5 million industrial designs were in force at 77 offices. SIPO ranked first in designs in force, with 37% of the total. SIPO’s share is similar to the combined share of the next four largest offices (JPO, KIPO, OHIM, and USPTO). Of the industrial designs registered in 2007, 59% were still in force in 2011, while fewer than 7% of designs registered before 1998 were still in force in 2011.

 

Registrations Through the Hague System

WIPO recorded 6,363 international registrations for industrial designs in 2011, an increase of 6.6% from 2010. International registrations have been increasing strongly since 2008, when the EU became a member of the Hague system. Despite the United States not being a member of the Hague system in 2011, US-based Procter & Gamble filed the highest-number of Hague based international applications in 2011. Another of the top five applicants, The Gillette Company, is also US-based.,

Under the Hague system, a single international registration can contain up to 100 different designs (in a single Locarno class). In 2011, the average number of designs per registrations stood at 4.7, down from 5.1 in 2010. The total number of designs in worldwide registrations fell from 11,238 in 2010 to 11,077 in 2011.

Late last year, President Obama signed-into-law the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, which provided the domestic legislation required to implement the Hague Agreement in the U.S.   As a result, we should expect to see the number of International Registrations filed through WIPO continue to increase in the future.

About the Author

Tracy-Gene G. Durkin is a director and Leader of the Mechanical Patent and Trademark Practice Group at intellectual property specialty law firm Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. Tracy is a recognized design patent expert and represents some of the most forward thinking companies in the area of product design and product packaging design.


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