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World Intellectual Property Indicators Report: Trademark and Industrial Design Filing Activity Rose in 2019; Patent Applications Marked Rare Decline

Geneva, December 7, 2020

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

Worldwide trademark and industrial design-creation activity rose in 2019 even as the number of global patent applications dipped slightly on weaker demand in IP powerhouse China, WIPO's benchmark World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report showed.

Video: Press conference - Watch on YouTube) | Interactive charts: Barchart

A behind the scenes look at WIPO’s virtual press conference for the launch of the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2020 report. (Photo: WIPO/Berrod)

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.

The WIPI's 2019 figures, which pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic, underline the long-building growth in demand for the intellectual property tools that incentivize an increasingly global and digital-focused economy, said WIPO Director General Daren Tang.

"The robust use of intellectual property tools shows high levels of innovation and creativity at the end of 2019, just at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Mr. Tang. "The pandemic has accelerated long-building trends by fostering the adoption of new technologies and accelerating the digitization of everyday life. Because IP is so connected to technology, innovation and digitalization, IP will become even more important to a greater number of countries in the post-COVID world."

World Intellectual Property Indicators – 2020

An authoritative annual survey of IP activity around the globe.


IP Right 2018 2019 Growth (%), 2018-2019
Number of patent applications 3,325,400 3,224,200 –3.0
Number of classes specified in trademark applications 14,314,000 15,153,700 5.9
Number of designs contained in industrial design applications 1,343,800 1,360,900 1.3
Number of plant variety applications 19,880 21,430 7.8

Note: Trademark classes and designs contained in applications allow for cross-border comparison, as some countries require individual filings for each class or design, while other allow for multiple classes/designs in a single filing.


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.

Germany (67,434), India (53,627), Canada (36,488), the Russian Federation (35,511) and Australia (29,758) also featured among the top 10 offices. These offices saw a mixed performance. Canada (+0.9%) and India (+7.1%) exhibited growth in filings in 2019, while Australia (–0.7%), Germany (–0.7%) and the Russian Federation (–6.4%) recorded declines.

Offices located in Asia received close to two-thirds (65%) of all applications filed worldwide in 2019 – a considerable increase from 50.9% in 2009 – primarily driven by long-term growth in China. Offices located in North America accounted for just over one-fifth (20.4%) of the world total, while those in Europe accounted for just above one-tenth (11.3%). The combined share of offices located in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania was 3.3% in 2019.

In terms of filing abroad, which is an indication of a desire to expand in new markets, U.S. residents continue to lead with 236,032 equivalent patent applications filed abroad in 2019. The U.S. was followed by Japan (206,758), Germany (104,736), China (84,279) and the Republic of Korea (76,824).

Patents in force worldwide grew by 7% to reach around 15 million in 2019. The highest number of patents in force was recorded in the U.S. (3.1 million), followed by China (2.7 million) and Japan (2.1 million). More than half of all patents in force in the U.S. originate from abroad, while domestic applicants accounted for around four-fifths of all patents in force in Japan.


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%).

Offices located in Asia accounted for 70.6% of all trademark filing activity in 2019, up from 38.7% in 2009. Europe’s share declined from 36% in 2009 to 15.4% in 2019. North America accounted for 5.7% of the world total in 2019, while the combined share of offices located in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania was 8.3% in 2019.

There were an estimated 58.2 million active trademark registrations worldwide in 2019 – up 15.2% on 2018, with 25.2 million in China alone, followed by 2.8 million in the U.S., and 2 million in India.

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%).

Offices located in Asia accounted for more than two-thirds (68.4%) of all designs in applications filed worldwide in 2019, followed by Europe (24.3%) and North America (4.2%). The combined share of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania was 3.1% in 2019.

Designs related to furnishings accounted for 9.4% of global filing activity[2], followed by those related to clothing (8.1%) and to packages and containers (7.3%).

The total number of industrial design registrations in force worldwide grew by 7.3% to reach around 4.1 million. The largest number of registrations in force was in China (1.8 million), followed by the Republic of Korea (358,803), the U.S. (357,959) and Japan (261,669).

Plant varieties

China’s relevant office received 7,834  plant variety applications in 2019, up 36% on 2018. It now accounts for over one-third of the plant variety applications filed worldwide. China was followed by the Community Plant Variety Office of the European Union (CPVO; 3,525) and relevant offices of the U.S. (1,590), Ukraine (1,238) and Japan (822). Among the top five offices, China (+36%) and Ukraine (+1.1%) saw growth in filings 2019, while Japan (–6.6%), the U.S. (–1.2%) and CPVO (–0.8%) saw a drop in filings.

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%).

Publishing industry

Revenue generated by the trade and the educational sectors of the publishing industry of 21 countries amounted to USD 67.3 billion in 2019. The U.S. (USD 23.5 billion) reported the largest net revenue, followed by Japan (USD 16.1 billion), the Republic of Korea (USD 6.2 billion), Germany (USD 5.6 billion), the U.K. (USD 5.4 billion) and France (USD 3 billion).

Online sales generated more than half of total trade sector revenue in Sweden (50.1%) and the U.K. (55.2%). The U.S. (43.5%) and Turkey (22%) also had a large proportion of their total trade sector revenue generated by online sales.

The U.K. reported a combined total of around 202,000 published titles covering the trade and educational sectors in 2019. It was followed by the Russian Federation (115,171), France (107,143), Italy (100,266) and Spain (95,849).


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

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

About WIPO

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