GENEVA — The apparel sector posted big volumes in trademark and industrial design applications worldwide in 2018, and with China the driving force in intellectual property activity, a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization said.
“Roughly two-thirds of all intellectual property applications are being filed in Asia…it is a very important development worldwide — 66.8 percent for patents, 70 percent for trademarks, 69.7 percent for industrial designs, in that, China has been the major driving force,” said Francis Gurry, WIPO director-general, during the launch of the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2019 report.
The report estimates 10.9 million trademark applications — covering 14.3 million classes — were filed worldwide in 2018, up 1.7 million over the year before, and corresponding to an increase of 19 percent. China had a class count 7.4 million, followed by the U.S. in second place with 640,181.
While more than four-fifths of the applications were filed by residents, the study, which draws on data from 166 offices worldwide, also reveals, the apparel and accessories industry accounted for an 11.8 percent share of all trademark applications filed by non-residents, the third most important behind research and technology with 20.4 percent, and health with 13.8 percent.
Asked what was driving the apparel and accessories trademark applications, Carsten Fink, WIPO chief economist, told WWD: “If you look at a sector like fashion, what is important there, if you spend $60 on a shirt what are you actually paying for? The cotton, and the manufacturing of the shirts, has become really cheap, so you’re paying for design and you’re paying for brand value. I think if you look at the evolution behind this, obviously through design, through branding, companies differentiate themselves from others, and that’s how they create a price advantage.”
Moreover, he said, selling in international markets is also important for them to protect their design rights and their brands and trademarks.
Similarly, the report said an estimated 1 million industrial design applications, containing 1.3 million designs, were filed worldwide in 2018, up 5.7 percent, with China alone accounting for 708,799 designs, or 54 percent of the world total.
Again, apparel was prominent in global industrial design applications filed by residents in 2018. and accounted for the second-largest share (8.3 percent) after furnishings (with 10.5 percent) based on data from 112 IP offices around the globe.
With regards to apparel industrial design applications filed abroad, Italy led the field with 56,563, followed by Germany with 47,729; the U.S., 44,145; Switzerland, 34.660; France, 25,278; Spain, 16,490; United Kingdom, 13,531; Portugal, 11,853, China; 9,784, and Austria, with 5,650.
Concerning apparel industrial design filings, Fink pointed out such action “essentially protects the aesthetic, it does not protect the brand name. But it protects you from someone taking the design and copying the design and selling it on the marketplace. It is a form of IP, that we know, in countries like Italy, and others, is quite important.”