World Intellectual Property Indicators 2013: Design Patent Highlights

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) publishes a yearly report of the worldwide intellectual property filings. World Intellectual Property Indicators 2013 estimates draw from approximately 131 Patent offices, and include direct national and regional applications and those received through the Hague system of international registration. This analysis is a follow on from last year’s published here World Intellectual Property Indicators 2012: Design Patent Highlights.

The past decade has seen tremendous growth in design patent filings, increasing from 582,000 in 2004 to over 1,217,000 in 2012 worldwide. In 2012, the 17% growth over the prior year in applications was the highest one year growth seen since reporting started in 2004. Across the top 20 IP offices, those receiving the most filings in 2012, three-fourths saw a rise in applications over 2011. The overall growth of patents and trademarks, which reported a record year across the board, has persisted despite economic uncertainty in recent years.

China and Russia

In 2012, the IP office of the China – State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) – again saw a tremendous growth rate of 26.1% for design patents, the second highest growth rate among the top 20 IP offices. A vast majority of the growth in applications, around 25.9% from 2011 to 2012, were contributions by residents, as opposed to non-resident applications, which made up 0.2% of growth from 2011 to 2012. With the highest number of registrations, SIPO issued 466,858 design patents. Among the top 20 IP offices, the growth in design patents at SIPO for 2012 was outpaced only by the Russian Federation at 29.5%. Yet in Russia, a majority of this growth was among non-resident applications and did not rival the overall number of applications filed at SIPO.

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 $1,035 or less; lower middle-income is $1,036 to $4,085; upper middle-income is $4,086 to $12,615, and high-income is categorized as $12,616 or more. Middle-income countries, including China, continued to experience the most substantial growth in 2012. Of the 20 largest offices, 5 are located in middle-income counties. Turkey had 42,246 registrations, more than the number of registrations 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 2012 include India (8.7%), Ukraine (16.5%), and Croatia (22.2%). As a result of the rapid growth of Chinese patent filings, the overall share of high-income countries decreased from 51.1% in 2007 to 36% in 2012. Lower middle-income and low-income countries account for 3.3% of all design applications.

Non-Resident Applications

Of the 1,216,700 industrial designs filed in 2012, 1,042,500 were resident applications and 174,500 were non-resident applications. Non-resident applications have seen a decline in recent years, both in absolute and proportional terms, moving from 175,420 (22.8% of total) in 2007 to 174,000 (14.3% of total) in 2012. 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. In considering non-resident filings, the United States applicants accounted for the largest number of total design patents in the offices of Brazil, India, Japan, OHIM, and the Russian Federation. For SIPO, KIPO, and the USPTO, applicants from Japan accounted for the largest proportion of non-resident designs.


The number of design registrations issued over the past decade reflects the growth of design applications. The 530,000 registrations issued in 2006 increased to 955,500 in 2012. Since 2006, large growth has been seen in part due to strong growth from SIPO, which issued approximately 364,000 more design registrations in 2012 than in 2006. As in applications, non-resident registration has fallen from 31% in 2004 to 15.9% in 2012 largely due to considerable growth in China.

Designs in Force

In 2012, an estimated 2.71 million industrial designs were in force at 86 offices. SIPO ranked first in designs in force, with 41.8% of the total. The top five offices combined – including SIPO, USPTO, KIPO, JPO and OHIM – accounted for 76.7% of the world total. Of the industrial designs registered in 2007, 67.7% were still in force in 2012. For those designs registered in 1999, 30% were still in force in 2012.

Registrations Through the Hague System

WIPO recorded 2,440 international registrations for industrial designs in 2012, an increase of 3.3% from 2011. International filings through the Hague system have substantially increased since 2008 when the European Union joined as a member. Filing through the Hague system allows applicants protection within the EU as well as other member states, including Switzerland and Turkey. As of 2012, the Hague system included 60 members. Swatch AG of Switzerland was the top applicant of 2012 with 81 filings. Although the United States was not a member of the Hague system in 2012, the Procter & Gamble Company filed the fourth highest-number of applications, with 57 filed.

Under the Hague system, a single international registration can contain up to 100 different designs (in a single Locarno class). However, in 2012, 61.4% of applications contained three or less designs. The total number of designs in worldwide registrations rose from 11,077 in 2011 to 12,786 in 2012.

President Obama signed the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 into law in December of 2012. With the inclusion of the United States in the Hague system, it can be expected that international filings using the Hague system will continue on an upward trend. Gregoire Bisson, Director of the Hague Registry, was recently quoted stating that the Hague System will grow massively, as South Korea is scheduled to join in July, and “Japan, China, the 10 Asean countries and Russia could join in 2015.”



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