World Intellectual Property Indicators 2014: Design Patent Highlights

globe-world-flags-mapThe World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has published its annual World Intellectual Property Indicators. The 2014 report covers the macroscopic trends of filing activity and registrations for 2013 in the following intellectual property areas: patents, trademarks, industrial designs and plant varieties. Estimates for design patent applications are based on data from approximately 140 patent offices, encompassing both direct national and regional applications, as well as applications received through the Hague system of international registration.

Industrial design patent applications have increased significantly over the past 20 years, with double digit growth seen each year from 2010-2012. However, this period of accelerated growth appears to have ended, as 2013 experienced just 1.7% growth over 2012 with 956,600 new industrial design applications filed worldwide.

Drop in Registrations:

In 2013, 647,300 industrial design registrations were filed – a 6.4% drop from 2012. The decline in global registrations stems primarily from the slow-down of Chinese manufacturing, which produced 12% fewer registrations than the previous year. After seven years of consecutive growth, 2013’s global registrations of 919,100 designs represents a 3.3% decrease from 2012. In 2013, upwards of three million industrial design registrations were in force. This 5.1% increase from 2012 can be attributed to the 1.22 million registrations in force in China. China has more than four times more registrations in force than the US or the Republic of Korea. All of the top 5 patent offices saw growth in the number of registrations in force, although 6 offices in the top 20 countries saw declines. Because of a shift towards Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), all of the national offices in the top 20 countries located in the European Union saw declines, ranging from just -.5% in Germany to -22.9% in Austria.


Of the nearly one million applications filed worldwide, 659,563 (69%) were received by the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO). This .3% growth from 2012 is in stark contrast to the double digit growth China had experienced each year between 1992 and 2012.Factors contributing to this diminished growth include the new, more exacting examination protocols of SIPO. Despite diminished growth, China again topped the largest offices list, besting its next closest competitor, the European Union, by more than 500,000 applications.

Breakdown of Application Design Counts:

The 2014 report utilizes World Bank income classifications to categorize countries into four economic groups based on gross national income per capita (low income; lower middle income; upper middle income; high income). Of the largest 20 offices, 13 are from high-income countries, five are from middle-income countries, and two are from low-income countries. China tops the largest middle-income countries, followed by Turkey, Brazil, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Morocco. Altogether, upper middle-income countries accounted for 60.8% of the total application filings in 2013, nearly double their total from a decade prior. High-income countries accounted for 35.3% of the 2013 filings, a decrease from 62.7% in 2004, caused in great part by China’s rapid growth in filings. Asia was the only region to experience an increase in the total share of design filings, rising to 69.4%.


Resident Versus Non-Resident Applications:

Of the 1,242,700 designs in all applications filed (including design), 85.4% were resident applications — applications filed by an applicant residing in the country or region for which the IP office has jurisdiction, while 14.6% were non-resident applications — applications filed by an applicant outside the jurisdiction of the IP office. This represents a slight increase in non-resident applications from 14.2% in 2012. The region with the highest percentage of resident applications was Asia, with 93.4%–an increase from 85.8% in 2012. The driving factor in this growth is the increase in Chinese resident filings. The region with the lowest percentage of resident filings is Oceania, the region incorporating the islands of the Central and South Pacific including: Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, with 40.1%, a 3.6% growth over the past decade. The upper middle-income group had the highest percentage of resident filings in 2013 with 94%, a 17.4% growth from 2004. The low-income group had the lowest percentage of resident filings with 46.3%, a ten year increase of just 3.3%.

Locarno Classification:

The Locarno Classification categorizes industrial designs into one of 32 classes. Furnishing related designs accounted for 10.5% of all industrial designs in 2013, followed by articles of clothing with 8%. The top four classes, furnishing, articles of clothing, communication or information retrieval equipment, and packages for the handling of goods, accounted for one third of the total share of industrial designs. In all but three origins (U.S., U.K., and the Netherlands), the top three sectors accounted for more than half of total filings, indicating national specialization in a handful of sectors.

Hague Registrations:

WIPO recorded 2,734 international registrations recorded under the Hague system. Driving this 12% increase over 2012 is Switzerland – which replaced Germany in 2013 as the largest source of registrations – and Italy. A total of 57.3% of the 98,500 designs for non-resident applications filed at offices of Hague members were filed directly through the Hague system. The top ten most designated Hague members were the European Union, Switzerland, Turkey, Norway, Singapore, Ukraine, Monaco, Montenegro, Liechtenstein, and Morocco. Each of these Hague members saw significant growth in designations over 2012, with Montenegro experiencing the highest growth at 64%. Upwards of 45% of all designations in 2013 were contributed by the top five members. With the United States, Japan, and South Korea all joining the Hague System since 2013, these numbers are certain to increase in future editions of this WIPO report.


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