Tuesday 25 November 2008

Recession...what recession?

A quick review of the trade mark filing statistics in the US and EU illustrates that there is not (yet) evidence of a slowdown in the investment in trade mark filings. The USPTO 2008 Annual Report reflects that over 300,000 trade marks were filed in the US for the financial year ending 30 September - another record year. The EU stats released by OHIM and accurate to 12 November 2008 reflect that Community Trade Mark filings are on course to match last year's figures - a record year too.

Of course, it is difficult to discern filing trends over the past six weeks from these figures and there will inevitably be a lag period if filings drop in the face of adverse economic conditions. However, it is not as if there has been upbeat financial news over the past 12 months, particularly in the States, leading one to think that filings are quite robust. If this growth continues despite the poor economic outlook for 2009 then perhaps it is a sign that companies are preferring to spend their money on defensive filings (as opposed to litigation) or that brands are being squeezed into new categories (requiring news filings) to generate revenue or that simply, the trade mark business just keeps growing. That said, as GDP growth levels drop (even into negative territory) one cannot help but feel that trade mark filings (traditionally symptomatic of growth) will do so too. The dot com crash, for example, saw a 15% drop in filings in the EU which took a three full years to recover, between 2000 and 2004.

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