Global patent filings grow despite COVID-19


Alex Baldwin

Global patent filings grow despite COVID-19

Bihlmayer Fotografie /

International patent applications increased in 2020, reaching a record 275,900 filings per year, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation announced today that patent filings grew 4% year-on-year from 2019 despite a drop of 3.5% annual GDP in 2020.

For the second year running China filed the most patent applications, submitting 68,720 filings to the WIPO Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system. This marks a 16.1% year-on-year increase over 2019.

The US was the second-largest filer with 59,230 applications, up 3% from 2019. Japan filed 50,520 applications, marking a 4.1% drop off year-on-year and Korea came in fourth with 2,060 applications, an increase of 5.2%.

Saudi Arabia saw the largest increase of annual applications in 2020, with an increase of 73% filings, reaching a total of 956 in 2020. Malaysia saw the second-largest increase, filing 255 applications, marking a 26% growth.

Huawei remained the single largest filer of patents for the fourth consecutive year, with 5,464 published.

Trademark trade-off

Despite the gains in patent filings, usage of the WIPO trademark system dipped slightly, with registrations of international marks to WIPO’s Madrid system falling by 0.6% to 63,000. This is the first decline since the global financial crisis in 2008-2009 according to WIPO.

The US came out ahead, filing 10,005 trademark applications in 2020 followed by Germany (7,334), China (7,075), France (3,716) and the UK (3,679).

“Use of the international trademark system dipped, but only slightly. This was expected given that trademarks tend to represent the introduction of new goods and services—both of which slowed as a result of the global pandemic,” said WIPO.

The top filer to the Madrid system in 2020 was Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis with 233 individual applications.

Pandemic hurts designs

The IP segment hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic seems to be industrial designs, with the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs receiving 15% fewer submissions in 2020, down to 18,580 and marking the first decline since 2006.

For the fourth year running, Samsung led the pack in design by submitting 859 applications, followed by Procter & Gamble with 623. Designs related to means of transport accounted for last year’s largest share, comprising 10.1% of the total.

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WIPO, US, China, Huawei, Novartis