The UKIPO’s recent report on patent, trademark and design applications, publications and grants 1995–2017 has identified some interesting filing trends. Meanwhile, the UK government has confirmed that EU IP rights will continue to be protected in the UK post-Brexit at no-cost to brand owners.

First the Brexit news: the UK government had given further reassurances to businesses that their EU IP rights would continue to be protected in the UK post-Brexit, and at no additional cost. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Robin Walker MP, stated during a debate in the House of Commons on 19 July 2018 that:

“We have agreed to protect all existing EU trademarks, community-registered designs and unregistered designs in the UK as we leave the EU. In place of those EU-level rights, 1.5 million new UK trademarks and registered designs will be granted automatically and for free.”

This is good news for IP owners and a further indication that the UK government is preparing to meet the provisions set out in the European Commission's Draft Withdrawal Agreement, issued at the end of February. The UK government also announced this month that it is planning to introduce new legislation to protect Geographical Indications (GIs), another of the provisions in the proposed agreement.

Trends in IP filings: trademarks

Despite this progress, Brexit-based uncertainty may explain the 30% spike in trademark applications between 2016 and 2017 identified in the UKIPO’s report ‘Trends at UK Intellectual Property Office 1995 to 2017’; although the report notes that ‘deeper research’ would be needed to definitively confirm this. Total application numbers in 2017 were more than double what they were in 1995, with the average annual compound growth in trademark applications between 2010 and 2017 measured at just under 13%.

‘Advertising; business management; business administration’ made up the largest share of registrations in 2017 (just over 9%) while ‘Tobacco, raw or manufactured; smokers’ articles, matches’ had the largest average yearly growth between 2007 and 2017 (just over 14%).

The EUIPO has seen similar growth figures in this time period according to the report, which also suggests that growth ‘may explain why applications filed to the UK IPO through the international Madrid Protocol have declined in recent years’. Trademark registrations filed through the Madrid protocol peaked in 2001, making up 29% of all registrations that year.

Not forgetting designs

UK design applications also increased following the referendum, including from non-residents, peaking in 2016 according to the report. Up until 2015, applications from non-UK residents had been in dramatic decline, which the report links to the introduction of the Registered Community Design (RCD) in 2003.

Designs classified as “Graphic symbols and logos” have seen the greatest growth rate of application since 2007, with ‘tobacco, raw or manufactured; smokers’ articles, matches also making up the greatest share of applications in 2017.

National patent filings in decline

Finally, the report reveals that patent applications made directly to the UKIPO have seen a gentle decline in recent years, while applications at the European Patent Office (EPO) are continuing to rise, suggesting patentees may be opting to obtain UK protection via the European Patent (EP) or Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) systems.

UK-based applicants continue to make up the greatest share of UK applications, although the share of applications from non-residents increased in 2017 to 40%. Granted patents under the technology field ‘civil engineering’ made up the greatest share of grants in 2017 (11.5%) while ‘micro-structure and nano-technology’ had the greatest average compound annual growth (17.1%).

Click here to download the report in full.