4 May 2022TrademarksAlex Baldwin

Web3 tech ‘driving’ tech trademarks, says Clarivate report

Trademark applications for cryptocurrencies, the metaverse, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were instrumental in propelling Nice Class 9 (technology, computer hardware and software) to becoming the second-largest trademark classification by application volume globally in 2021, a new report from Clarivate claims.

2021 saw Nice Class 9 filings surge from third place, where it has been since 2011, to become the second most popular Nice classification.

The growth was bolstered by the “dizzying rise” in high-profile technology trends that came to prominence in 2021, including virtual worlds, cryptocurrency, the “metaverse fray”, and NFTs.

Robert Reading, head of content strategy, Clarivate said, “We live in a digital, hyper-connected and technologically advanced world where trends such as NFTs and the metaverse present both unprecedented opportunities and challenges to how intellectual property is created, managed and protected.

“Through the lens of trademark research intelligence, brands and organizations can better understand how to make confident business and brand decisions in a fast-evolving trademark landscape.”

Since the first trademark application for NFTs was filed in August 2018, related applications have increased more than 9,000% and marks for “virtual goods/services” increased 250% in 2021, Clarivate claims.

The largest period of growth for NFT related marks was seen in the first two months of 2022, where applications for the technology increased “almost seven-fold”.

Several high-profile companies have also made applications for NFT-related trademarks, including Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, and Coca-Cola.

The report noted that burgeoning interest in the metaverse is “driving a significant increase” in applications using the term “Meta” and for marks covering “virtual goods/services” in the US.

Application growth

Clarivate highlights continued “socio-economic uncertainty” as an impetus for the growth in global trademark filings, which has continued to increase for the tenth consecutive year.

While overall trademark filings increased, Class 10 applications for Medical and diagnostic equipment fell 22% last year, which Clarivates suggests is likely due to the slew of COVID-19 related marks for masks, face coverings and other protective equipment passing.

Reading concluded: “Organisations continue to face some of the most challenging business conditions today. Making informed brand decisions with certainty and speed to fuel progress and growth is getting harder.

“In a world where organisations are operating in a borderless, highly competitive and increasingly online marketplace, curating and safeguarding unique and valuable brand identities will become ever more critical to business success.”

China’s lead

China continues to propel global trademark filings, accounting for almost 70% of global filing activity in 2021, followed by the US at 5%, India and Brazil at 4% and South Korea at 2%.

Chinese companies also dominated the list of top filers, with five of the top ten being Xiaomi, Tencent, Alibaba, Huawei and Zhejiang Geely.

Nice Class 35, which covers retail, advertising, marketing and business services, was the dominant class for Chinese filings in 2021. However, the classification which saw particularly strong growth in applications in the region was Class 33, which covers alcoholic beverages (excluding beer), which increased 34%. Class 32 for beer and non-alcoholic beverages also rose by 13% last year.

As well as driving global trademark filings, China continues to lead the number of trademark submissions to the US Patent and Trademark Office, submitting 28% of all trademark applications filed in 2021, marking a 4% increase over 2020.

The full report, “Traversing the evolving trademark landscape: discover trends, challenges and opportunities through the lens of IP intelligence”, can be read here.

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