GENEVA — China and the United States posted the highest number of apparel-related trademark applications worldwide in 2013, reflecting the growing importance by companies in protecting the value, reputation, and quality of their brands from abuse, a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization reveals.
Overall, in 2013 the apparel industry attracted the second highest trademark activity and accounted for a 14.3 percent share, from 4.87 million applications filed worldwide, and just behind agriculture with a 16.5 percent share, it said. Figures for 2013 are the latest available given the organization’s time lag in collecting the data.
China, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of apparel, last year had 361,098 apparel-related trademark applications filed by residents and non-residents, up from 316,585 in 2012, and accounted for a 19.2 percent share of the total trademark filings of 1.88 million.
Similarly, in the United States, apparel applications totaled 62,583, up from 53,125 a year earlier, accounting for 12.9 percent of 428,687 filings.
Apparel trademark activity was also prominent last year in France, with 39,392 filings (13.1 percent of the total); Turkey, with 25,960 (11.6 percent ); India, 24,082 (11.9 percent); Indonesia, 11,203 (16.7 percent), and Mexico, with 10,672 (9.7 percent).
“Trademarks are the most widely used form of registered intellectual property. Companies in both poor and rich countries rely on trademarks to protect their brand space,” Carsten Fink, WIPO chief economist and the report’s lead author, told WWD.
“It enables them to earn a financial return on their marketing investments and to defend their brands against infringement,” he said.
The WIPO report, World Intellectual Property Indicators 2014, shows that China also accounted for most trademarks in force in 2013, with 7.2 million, up 13.1 percent on 2012, followed by the U.S. with 1.8 million, up 4 percent.
Overall, about 13.8 million trademarks were in force in 63 patent offices worldwide in 2013, the report said.
Francis Gurry, WIPO director-general, reflecting on the “Chinese phenomenon,” said the world’s biggest emerging economy is becoming “more prominent” in seeking intellectual property titles.
“All the signs we see of China’s engagement in this area are entirely positive, and extremely strong,” he said, adding that strategically the country “is on a journey from made in China to created in China” and moving away from manufacturing towards knowledge-intensive industries.