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World Intellectual Property Indicators: Filings for Patents, Trademarks, Industrial Designs Reach Record Heights in 2018

Geneva, October 16, 2019

Go to: Patents | Trademarks | Industrial designs | Plant varieties | Geographical indications | Publishing industry

Asia accounted for more than two-thirds of all patent, trademark and industrial design applications in 2018, with China driving overall growth in demand for intellectual property (IP) rights as the United States of America (U.S.) maintained its primacy in patent applications filed in export markets.

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WIPO Director General Francis Gurry at the press launch of the World Intellectual Property Indicators report (Photo: WIPO/Berrod).

Innovators across the globe filed 3.3 million patent applications in 2018, up 5.2% for a ninth straight yearly increase, according to WIPO’s annual World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report. Global trademark filing activity rose to 14.3 million, while that for industrial designs reached 1.3 million.

“Asia continues to outpace other regions in filing activity for patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other intellectual property rights that are at the center of the global economy,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “China alone accounted for almost half of all the world’s patent filings, with India also registering impressive increases. Asia has become a global hub for innovation.”

In addition, worldwide plant variety applications grew by 8.9% to reach 20,210 applications in 2018, while data received from 92 national and regional authorities showed some 65,900 protected geographical indications (GIs) in 2018.

World Intellectual Property Indicators – 2019

An authoritative annual survey of IP activity around the globe.


At a glance


IP rights 2017 2018 Growth (%),
Number of patent applications 3,162,300 3,326,300 5.2
Number of classes specified in trademark applications




Number of designs contained in industrial design applications




Number of plant variety applications




Number of geographical indications in force




Note: n.a. indicates not available.


China’s IP office received the highest number of patent applications in 2018, a record 1.54 million applications that amounts to 46.4% of the global total and is similar in magnitude to the combined total of the offices ranked two through 11. China’s IP office was followed by the offices of the U.S. (597,141), Japan (313,567), the Republic of Korea (209,992) and the European Patent Office (EPO; 174,397). Together, these five offices accounted for 85.3% of the world total.

Among the top five offices, China (+11.6%), the EPO (+4.7%) and the Republic of Korea (+2.5%) recorded growth in applications, while both Japan (-1.5%) and the U.S. (-1.6%) saw small declines. For the U.S., it was the first decline in applications since 2009.  

Germany (67,898), India (50,055), the Russian Federation (37,957), Canada (36,161) and Australia (29,957) also featured among the top 10 offices. All of these offices saw growth in filings, ranging from 7.5% in India to 0.3% in Germany.

Asia is the hub of global patent filings

Asia has strengthened its position as the region with the greatest activity in patent filings. Offices located in Asia received two-thirds (66.8%) of all applications filed worldwide in 2018 – a considerable increase from 50.8% in 2008 – primarily driven by growth in China. Offices located in North America accounted for just under one-fifth (19%) of the 2018 world total, while those in Europe accounted for just over one-tenth (10.9%). The combined share of offices located in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania was 3.3% in 2018.

U.S. applicants filed the largest number of patent applications beyond its borders

In terms of filing abroad, which is an indication of a desire to expand in new markets, U.S. residents continue to lead with 230,085 equivalent patent applications filed abroad in 2018. The U.S. was followed by Japan (206,739), Germany (106,753), the Republic of Korea (69,459) and China (66,429).

Patents in force worldwide grew by 6.7% to reach 14 million in 2018. Around 3.1 million patents were in force in the U.S., followed by China (2.4 million) and Japan (2.1 million). Half of all patents in force in the U.S. originate from abroad, while domestic applicants accounted for around 70% of all patents in force in China.


An estimated 10.9 million trademark applications covering 14.3 million classes were filed worldwide in 2018. The number of classes specified in applications grew by 15.5% in 2018, marking a ninth consecutive year of growth.

China’s IP office had the highest volume of filing activity[1] with a class count of around 7.4 million; followed by the IP offices of the U.S. (640,181) and Japan (512,156); the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO; 392,925) and the IP office of the Islamic Republic of Iran (384,338).

Among the top 20 offices, the largest increases between 2017 and 2018 were in the IP offices of Indonesia (+29.1%), China (+28.3%), India (+20.9%), the Republic of Korea (+14.5%) and the United Kingdom (+12.4%).

Asia leads in trademark filings

Offices located in Asia accounted for 70% of all trademark filing activity in 2018, up from 36.2% in 2008. Europe’s share declined from 38.4% in 2008 to 15.8% in 2018. North America accounted for 5.8% of the world total in 2018, while the combined share of offices located in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania was 8.4% in 2018.

There were an estimated 49.3 million active trademark registrations worldwide in 2018 – up 13.8% on 2017, with 19.6 million in China alone, followed by 2.4 million in the U.S., and 1.9 million in India.

Industrial designs

An estimated 1 million industrial design applications containing 1.3 million designs were filed worldwide in 2018, representing a 5.7% year-on-year increase. China’s IP office received applications containing 708,799 designs in 2018, corresponding to 54% of the world total. It was followed by the EUIPO (108,174) and the IP offices of the Republic of Korea (68,054), the U.S. (47,137) and Germany (44,460).

Among the top 20 offices, the following five offices reported double-digit growth in design counts: the U.K. (+42.4%), the Russian Federation (+21%), Italy (+16.6%), India (+13.6%) and China (+12.7%).

Asia sees the highest design activity

Offices located in Asia accounted for more than two-thirds (69.7%) of all designs in applications filed worldwide in 2018, followed by Europe (23%) and North America (4.1%). The combined share of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania was 3.2% in 2018.

Designs related to furnishings accounted for 10.5% of global filing activity[2], followed by those related to clothing (8.3%) and to packages and containers (7.7%).

The total number of industrial design registrations in force worldwide grew by 6.5% to reach around 4 million. The largest number of registrations in force was in China (1.6 million), followed by the Republic of Korea (344,560), the U.S. (336,116) and Japan (257,157).

Plant varieties

China’s relevant office received 5,760 plant variety applications in 2018, up 29% on 2017. It now accounts for over a quarter of the plant variety applications filed worldwide. China was followed by the Community Plant Variety Office of the European Union (CPVO; 3,554) and relevant offices of the U.S. (1,609), Ukraine (1,575) and Japan (880). Among the top five offices, China and Ukraine (+17.1%) saw double-digit growth in filings 2018; CPVO (+3.9%) and the U.S. (+3.3%) reported similar growth rates. Japan (-13.6%) saw a sharp drop in filings.

Geographical indications

In 2018, there were around 65,900 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 (15,566) reported the largest number of GIs in force, followed by China (7,247), Hungary (6,683) and the Czech Republic (6,285).

GIs in force relating to “wines and spirits” accounted for around 51.1% of the 2018 world total, followed by agricultural products and foodstuffs (29.9%) and handicrafts (2.7%).

Publishing industry

Revenue generated by the trade and the educational sectors of the publishing industry[3] of 14 countries amounted to USD 42.5 billion. The U.S. (USD 23.3 billion) reported the largest net revenue, followed by Germany (USD 6.1 billion), the U.K. (USD 5.4 billion) and France (USD 3 billion).

Online sales channels generated more than half of all trade sector revenue in the U.K. (51.5%) The U.S. (41.6%), Brazil (25.5%) and Sweden (23.5%) also saw large proportions of their total trade sector revenue generated by online sales channels. However, brick and mortar outlets continue to generate the highest share of total trade sector revenue for all the reported countries, except in Slovenia, the U.K. and the U.S.

The U.S. sold 2.6 billion copies of published titles covering the trade and educational sectors in 2018. It was followed by the U.K. (652 million), France (419 million) and Turkey (400 million).


1 Trademark filing activity refers to the total number of classes specified in trademark applications.

2 Industrial design filing activity refers to the total number of designs contained in industrial design applications.

3 The statistics on the publishing industry come from a joint survey conducted by the International Publishers Association and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

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