A L'Oreal factory

GENEVA — L’Oréal was the world’s top filer of international trademark applications in 2o17 with a total of 198, sharply up on 150 a year earlier, while Abercrombie & Fitch Europe SA was ranked fifth with 82 filings, up from 57 a year earlier, according to a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The WIPO findings show a strong interest by fashion and beauty companies to protect their image and commercial interests with filings in a range of categories, from apparel and footwear to textiles and leather goods.

The WIPO data reveal German retail chain Lidl made 44 filings, while German online retailer of apparel and shoes Zalando SE made 16; Gucci SpA notched 15; Chanel SARL, 14; online apparel company Stitch Fix Inc. and Christian Dior Couture registered 13 each; Spain’s Inditex SA, and Hermès International had 12 each and Norway’s Active brands and Asos had six each.

There were 6,173 new filings of international trademarks in apparel and footwear last year, 3,155 in leather goods, including travel goods, and 1,759 in textiles., WIPO said, noting that international trademark applications in all sectors grew by 5 percent in 2017 to 56,200, with U.S.-based applicants making 7,884 filings (versus 7,730 in 2016) the top applicants, followed by those located in Germany (7,316), China (5,230), France (4,261) and the U.K. (3,292), WIPO said, and noted, China saw the fastest growth with an increase of 36.3 percent in trademark filings.

Asked about the interest from the fashion and beauty sectors and whether this was also being driven by the take-off in online retail sales, Francis Gurry, WIPO director general, told WWD: “Yes, branding is exceptionally important in the fashion, beauty and luxury goods industry. Branding is the connector between the producer and the consumer. So the more the consumers know about the existence of a particular line of products of a particular producer, the better. Branding is not the only [element] because there is advertising of course but advertising uses brands.

“Branding is a means of establishing reputation and image, the quality of a product, the consistency of that quality and also differentiating from others. Because everyone makes shirts, but not this sort of shirt,” he said.

He acknowledged that concern about counterfeiting is also a factor in the interest by companies to safeguard their brands.

“Let’s face it, counterfeiting is a big problem worldwide and it’s a problem to some extent that’s been augmented by globalization because you can divide up the production of a product into different markets which can make it legally more difficult to exercise surveillance. So, it’s a big problem and success has many parents, as they say, and so success breeds imitators and when you’re talking about fashion and luxury goods, sometimes cheap imitations are rather simple to produce. The exact quality standards are much more difficult to produce.”

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