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    Patent Applications Marked first Decline in the decade

    2020/12/8|Industry News

    source: WIPO

    On December 7, 2020, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) released the "World Intellectual Property Indicators 2020".

    Trademark and industrial design filing activity increased by 5.9% and 1.3% respectively. A 3% decline in global patent applications, the first fall in a decade, was driven by a drop in filings by Chinese residents. Excluding China, global patent filings rose 2.3%.

    The annual WIPI report collects and analyzes IP data from some 150 national and regional offices to inform policy makers, business leaders, investors, academics and others seeking macro trends in innovation and creativity.

    IP Right20182019Growth (%), 2018-2019
    Number of patent applications3,325,4003,224,200–3.0
    Number of classes specified in trademark applications14,314,00015,153,7005.9
    Number of designs contained in industrial design applications1,343,8001,360,9001.3
    Number of plant variety applications19,88021,4307.8


    China’s IP office received 1.4 million patent applications in 2019, more than twice the amount received by authorities in the second-busiest country, the United States (621,453). The U.S. was followed by Japan (307,969), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO; 218,975) and the European Patent Office (EPO; 181,479). Together, these five offices accounted for 84.7% of the world total.

    Among the top five offices, the Republic of Korea (+4.3%), the EPO (+4.1%) and the U.S. (+4.1%) recorded growth in applications, while both China (–9.2%) and Japan (–1.8%) saw declines.

    Filings in China declined for the first time in 24 years due to a 10.8% drop in resident applications amidst an overall shift in regulations there aimed at optimizing application structures and improving the quality of applications.


    An estimated 11.5 million trademark applications covering 15.2 million classes were filed worldwide in 2019. The number of classes specified in applications grew by 5.9% in 2019, marking a 10th successive year of growth.

    China’s IP office had the highest volume of filing activity[1] with a class count of around 7.8 million; followed by the IP offices of the U.S. (672,681) and Japan (546,244); the IP office of the Islamic Republic of Iran (454,925) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO; 407,712).

    Among the top 20 offices, the largest increases between 2018 and 2019 were in the IP offices of Brazil (+22.3%), Viet Nam (+19.3%), the Islamic Republic of Iran (+18.4%), the Russian Federation (+16.5%) and Turkey (+15.5%).

    Industrial designs

    An estimated 1.04 million industrial design applications containing 1.36 million designs were filed worldwide in 2019, representing a 1.3% year-on-year increase. China’s IP office received applications containing 711,617 designs in 2019, corresponding to 52.3% of the world total. It was followed by the EUIPO (113,319) and the IP offices of the Republic of Korea (69,360), the U.S. (49,848) and Turkey (46,202).

    Among the top 20 offices, the following three offices reported double-digit growth in design counts: the Russian Federation (+22%), the Islamic Republic of Iran (+19.3%) and Australia (+10.3%).

    Geographical indications

    In 2019, there were around 55,800 GIs in force worldwide. GIs are signs used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin, such as Gruyère for cheese or Tequila for spirits. Germany (14,289) reported the largest number of GIs in force, followed by China (7,834), Hungary (6,494) and the Czech Republic (6,071).

    GIs in force relating to “wines and spirits” accounted for around 56.6% of the 2019 world total, followed by agricultural products and foodstuffs (34.2%) and handicrafts (3.5%).