International trademark filings under WIPO’s Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks (“the Madrid system”) dropped by 16% in 2009 as a result of the global economic downturn, though increases were observed among some major users of the system, notably the European Union (EU) (3.1%) and Japan (2.7%), as well as in the Republic of Korea (ROK) (+33.9%), Singapore (+20.5%), Croatia (+17.5%) and Hungary (+14.5%).
WIPO received 35,195 international applications under the 84-member Madrid system compared to 42,075 in 2008. Similarly, international trademark registrations were down 12% on 2008 with a total 35,925 international registrations in 2009. Trademark registrations reflect the introduction of new products and services to the market and are sensitive to business cycles. The comparatively smaller decrease (-1.2%) in the renewal of international trademark registrations, compared to 2008, reflects the value of established brands at a time when consumers opt for goods that are tried and trusted. In 2009, 19,234 international trademark renewals were recorded.
“International trademark filings took a hit in 2009,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, “this is not surprising given the difficult financial conditions and restrained consumer demand facing companies around the world. While trademark protection is sound business practice in good times and bad, companies are more cautious about bringing new products to market when economic uncertainty is high. That said, trademarks and the brands they underpin play a key role in value creation and provide the basis for business expansion when the economy recovers.”
Mr. Gurry noted “Historically, we know that demand for intellectual property rights declines in periods of recession. These downturns are more strongly and rapidly felt in the area of trademarks which are more closely tied to market conditions. Demand for intellectual property rights, however, had reached unprecedented levels prior to the crisis and we have every reason to believe that international trademark activity will pick up as economic growth solidifies and broadens.” - WIPO