Jun 16, 2021Legal
Patexia Insight 109: 1/4 of All Trademark Applications Are from China

Tomorrow, we are releasing our inaugural Trademark Prosecution Intelligence Report. Similar to our other Insight Reports, for this, we evaluated more than 2.6 million trademark applications filed or registered from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2020. As we performed this review, we uncovered some anomalies in the data. A big spike in the filings in 2020 caught our attention.

To rank all the stakeholders, in our 2021 Trademark Prosecution Intelligence Report, we evaluated and analyzed the following:

  • 2,618,466 trademark applications
  • 191,904 U.S. and foreign trademark applicants
  • 27,824 trademark firms
  • 33,234 trademark attorneys

The following bar chart shows the unique trademark applications filed since 2016. For this article, we only covered up until the second quarter of 2021 (e.g., March 31, 2021). As shown on the chart, in 2020, a total of 688,253 applications were filed, compared to 528,111 in 2019. This represents a 30% increase in the number of applications.

To understand the cause for this jump, we decided to look at the filing activity in 2020 by the country of origin. Data revealed that Chinese entities filed a total of 170,356 applications in 2020. That represents almost 25% of the total applications filed in 2020.

The following chart shows the activity of Chinese companies since 2011. As shown below, the total number of applications has been rising every year since 2011. However, this trend started to accelerate in 2015 and in recent years the pace of growth was even faster. For example, in 2020, the number of applications filed by Chinese entities grew a staggering 143% compared to 2019.

To further understand the timing of this massive volume, we zoomed in and looked at the monthly filing activity since the beginning of 2020. As illustrated in the following chart, Chinese entities accelerated their filing activities in the late summer of 2020 and this peaked in December, where a total of 44,758 applications filed just in a single month.

This increase in volume has caused an increase in the USPTO backlog, which will impact the examination time (check the spike on USPTO Trademark Dashboard). The USPTO will eventually absorb the volume, assuming it is a one-time increase but if the Chinese entities continue their filing activities at the same pace, then the office needs to add to its examination capacity to respond to this rise.

The full trademark report covers the top 1000 most active and best-performing trademark law firms, attorneys as well as applicants (companies). Our evaluation has moved some of the attorneys and firms, representing these Chinese entities, to the top of our list in a couple of categories, by activity. This unprecedented spike in filings has changed the trademark landscape and the position of some of the trademark law firms and attorneys who were historically at the top because of their high activity. The readers can find the full list of the attorneys and law firms with their activity and a list of their top 3 clients in the report. In the coming weeks and months, we plan to expand our coverage for trademarks. Stay tuned!

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