Beyond Patents: Trademarks and Plant Varieties

The registration of commercially used symbols, images, and names through trademarking can signal the creation of new products and services. Advances in ICT and digitization drive the development of new products, contributing to the growth in trademark applications (see Gao and Hitt [2012]). For companies in the United States that either perform or fund R&D, trademarks are considered as important as utility patents as an intellectual property protection strategy (NCSES 2018).

In the 20th century, intellectual property protection through registration of trademarks was primarily an activity of the United States, Europe, and Japan. This has changed. Trademark applications worldwide have increased rapidly in recent years, more than doubling from 5.5 million in 2008 to over 12 million a year in 2017 (WIPO 2019). Middle-income countries Brazil and China make up much of this growth; in 2017, Brazil’s trademark applications met or surpassed those of Japan and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (Figure 8-14). As with global patenting, China has registered a rapidly increasing number of trademarks (Figure 8-14).

Total trademark applications, by top five filing offices: 1980–2017

EUIPO = European Union Intellectual Property Office.

Source(s):

World Intellectual Property Organization Statistics Database, Total trademark applications (direct and via the Madrid system), accessed 27 September 2019.

Science and Engineering Indicators

USPTO Trademarks

The USPTO registered 273,000 trademarks in 2018, including 184,000 to U.S. assignees (Table S8-45). While the three broad categories that make up about half of these trademarks have not changed (Figure 8-15), similar to USPTO patents, the internationalization of commerce has led to an increasing share of USPTO trademarks registered to foreign assignees. Over the last decade, the number of foreign-registered USPTO trademarks has grown 137%, compared with 17% growth in the number of USPTO trademarks registered to U.S. assignees (Figure 8-16).

Number of U.S.-registered USPTO trademarks, by 10 aggregates (Nice classification): 2008 and 2018

USPTO = U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Note(s):

Trademarks are allocated according to holder information. Trademarks are fractionally allocated among regions, countries, or economies based on the proportion of residences of all named holders. Trademarks are classified under the 11th edition of the Nice classification of goods and services, which classifies trademarks under 34 categories of goods and 11 categories of services. Fractional counts of trademarks were assigned to each category to assign the proper weight of a trademark to the corresponding category under the classification.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation; Science-Metrix; USPTO data hosted by Reed Tech (LexisNexis), accessed April 2019. See Table S8-48 through Table S8-58.

Science and Engineering Indicators

Number of registered USPTO trademarks, by selected region, country, or economy: 2007–18

EU = European Union; USPTO = U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Note(s):

Trademarks are allocated according to holder information. Trademarks are fractionally allocated among regions, countries, or economies based on the proportion of residences of all named holders. The EU includes 28 member countries. China includes Hong Kong. Trademarks are classified under the 11th edition of the Nice classification of goods and services, which classifies trademarks under 34 categories of goods and 11 categories of services. Fractional counts of trademarks were assigned to each category to assign the proper weight of a trademark to the corresponding category under the classification.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation; Science-Metrix; USPTO data hosted by Reed Tech (LexisNexis), accessed April 2019. See Table S8-45.

Science and Engineering Indicators

For U.S.-registered USPTO trademarks, education, business services, and scientific apparatus were the largest product categories in 2018 (Figure 8-17).

Number of U.S.-registered USPTO trademarks, by selected Nice classification: 2008 and 2018

USPTO = U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Note(s):

Trademarks are allocated according to holder information. Trademarks are fractionally allocated among regions, countries, or economies based on the proportion of residences of all named holders. Trademarks are classified under the 11th edition of the Nice classification of goods and services, which classifies trademarks under 34 categories of goods and 11 categories of services. Fractional counts of trademarks were assigned to each category to assign the proper weight of a trademark to the corresponding category under the classification.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation; Science-Metrix; USPTO data hosted by Reed Tech (LexisNexis), accessed April 2019. See Table S8-46 and Table S8-47.

Science and Engineering Indicators

Trademarks from China grew nearly 20-fold, and those from the EU maintained a steady presence. One quarter of this growth from China comes in the broad science-linked category of research and technology (Table S8-56). Trademark data by detailed category are provided in Table S8-45 through Table S8-58.

Plant Varieties

Plant varieties are another kind of invention protected as intellectual property across national offices and within the EU. WIPO collects and shares data on these protections in its annual report (WIPO 2019). Plant variety protection covers nonhybridized plants; these plants must be created by seeds and tubers. Like patenting, this protection grants exclusive rights to produce the plant for sale for an extended number of years. In 2017, national offices issued over 15,000 plant variety protections worldwide, compared with 10,500 in 2008 (Table S8-59). The EU alone issued more than half of the plant variety protections in 2017, of which the Netherlands received nearly 3,700 (Table S8-59). China issued over 1,500 varieties, and Russia issued almost 500 (Table S8-59). The United States issued just over 1,700 varieties in 2017 (Table S8-59). Hybridized plants can be patented by the USPTO as plant patents; the European Patent Office does not allow this.