EUIPO annual report: where is the United States?

“Overall, 2018 was another successful and eventful year for the Office, in which significant progress on the SP2020 and an expansion of cooperation and enforcement activities were accompanied by efforts to prepare for the next strategic cycle and all the challenges and opportunities that it will bring”
─ EUIPO Focus Evolution.

It is impossible to disagree with this quote. Today’s world has undergone drastic changes, the role and importance of intellectual property increase every year as an indispensable part of the progress. Undertakings are interested in and seek the protection of trademarks they use and industrial designs they create. This applies not only to those that operate within the European Union, but ones that come to the Internal Market from outside as well and businesses from the United States in particular. Their interest evidently grows by the year, and while Germany maintains the leading position, the U.S. is hot on its heels. Let’s focus more on the most recent timeline: 2010 till present.

The general amount of EUTM and RCD applications received during the previous year constitutes serious numbers: 152,494 and 107,618 respectively. Owners from the United States comprise an impressive part of the general amount of applications, namely, approximately 11.4% for the EUTMs and 10.17% for the Community Designs.

Overall statistics show that for the past nine years the annual amount of EUTM filings has increased by 40 per cent. While in 2010 12,856 EUTMs were filed, in 2018 this number reached 17,438. As regards for the current year, by June 2019 EUIPO had already received 9,314 filings; this leads to an assumption that by the end of current year, the overall amount will most likely surpass the results of the preceding year. On average, during 2010-2018 every 7th-8th application was rejected, depending on the year and the amount of filings submitted. What is also interesting is that the TOP-5 of Nice Classification are traditionally held by class 9, 42, 35, 41, 5. The greatest preference is given to word marks and there is nothing surprising as the universality of their regulation offers an opportunity to provide a broader scope of protection. Word marks have reached a rate of 76.7%, which is an impressive majority. The second place is taken by figurative marks that total approximately 22.74% of the overall amount.

EU trademarks are filed by various U.S. undertakings, whether they are extra famous or not, irrespective of their size, goods and/or service provided. Among others, such companies of global renown as Microsoft, Apple, Coca-Cola, Ford Motors, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Exxon Mobil have entered the list of the companies with the biggest amount of applications, which is headed by Procter&Gamble.

It would be a serious mistake not to pay attention to Community Designs owned by U.S. companies as they possess approximately 10.17% of the overall amount registered in 2018. In the case of RCDs, we can see that starting from 2010 to this day, the total annual amount of applications has doubled or increased by 100%. While in 2010 there were 5,538 RCD applications filed, in 2019 this number reached 10,950 filings. The statistics show that the RCD annual growth is approximately 10% YOY. Speaking of 2019, it must be noted that almost 6,000 applications have already been received by the EUIPO. Therefore, we can assume that by the end of the current year the total amount will beat the record of the preceding year. This means exactly two things: an increase of the importance of industrial designs in running the business and the effectiveness of IP rights protection and enforcement, provided by European Union legislation and the appropriate bodies.

In the list of “top owners” there are companies such as Nike Innovative, Apple Inc., Procter&Gamble, Microsoft Corporation and Mars Inc., to name a few. Each company possesses at least several thousands of registered designs. By the way, designs with applications filed in classes 14, 2, 9, 24 are the more popular. Besides the impressive interest from U.S.-based applicants, it must be noted that the quality of the filings is also high. During the years, the amount of applications rejected has never exceeded the rate of 8%; this means that for each 100 applications, only 8 have been rejected.

The Office stated in its 2018 annual report that the sharp increase in the demand for trademarks and designs in the first quarter of 2019 was followed by a period of sluggish growth. However, this shall not affect the United States as applicants have clearly demonstrated a stable increase in interest in the protection of both community trademarks and designs. The highly developed legislative framework, its universality and availability are great factors fostering the internationalization of business activities of various undertakings from all over the world.

Read the full report HERE.

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