Trademark Applications Boom after COVID-driven Decline
Alt Legal Team | November 02, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented turmoil to the entire economy, including the trademark world. But in the quarterly Trademark Public Advisory Committee Meeting last Friday, the USPTO announced that trademark filings had quickly recovered from a brief downturn in applications. Trends continued to point towards gains by small filers and Chinese filers.
USPTO experts projected a decline in total filings, applications have instead climbed to their highest-ever level. This increase was driven chiefly by an increase among small and first-time filers along with Chinese filers.
Trademark Filings per Day, Actual vs Projected
In the early stages of the pandemic, filings decreased, dropping below expected levels in March and April. But May brought the beginning of a sustained boom in trademark applications (visible above). As a result, the fiscal year ending in September 2020 saw 738,112 total classes filed, up 7% from the year prior, with September showing the highest number of classes filed in a month in USPTO history. This reflects an 18% outperformance over pandemic-adjusted projected levels. Trademark filers have been able to adjust comfortably to the changes wrought on the economy by COVID-19.
Trademark Filings by Filer Type per Fiscal Year
In addition, trademark filings in fiscal 2020 reflected a long term trend towards smaller filers. One-time filers submitted 33% of all filings, up from 25% in fiscal 2015. Meanwhile, large and medium filers decreased their proportion of applications filed from 35% to 25% over the same period. This may reflect the ongoing transition of the economy towards online small-scale selling of goods and services and the use of trademarks to protect these brands.
Trademark Filings by Applicants in the US, China, and Rest of the World
China drove much of the recent increase in filings. While applications from the US and the rest of the world stayed approximately constant over FY 2020, Chinese filings increased from around 100 per day to 1600 per day by the end of the fiscal year, reaching US levels.
Fiscal Year 2020 brought unprecedented change to the entire economy, with the trademark landscape reflecting the long term trends towards the virtual economy and toward China. Trademark filers reached new records in applications filed amid significant economic churn.