If you are a Marxist, you view the world in terms of class struggle; if you are an artist, you see the world as colors and forms; and if you are a trademark lawyer, you see the world in terms of, well, trademarks (and service marks).
So, what do trademarks reveal about 2012? Some un-surprising things (but at least they confirm what we suspected), and some very interesting things.
The top ten countries for published trademarks in 2012 constitute the world’s economic varsity: China, U.S., Brazil, Turkey, France, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Canada and the U.K.1 Total trademark publications in the Varsity 10 declined one quarter of one percent from 2011; the global economy continues to sputter. The U.K. and Turkey were bright spots, up 10% and 8%, respectively.
Does this mean that the British economy is coming out of the doldrums? And that Turkey’s growing economy makes its membership in the European Union a function only of time? Such hypotheses may be reading too much into trademark tea leaves; on the other hand, as between bulls and bears, aren’t the former more likely as a class to be adopting and protecting new trademarks?
What is the world using all these new trademarks on? If you have visited a website (any website) lately, you will not be surprised to learn that applications in Class 35 (advertising and business management) lapped the field with almost 393,000 published marks around the world. Madison Avenue goes ubiquitous! But the world is still making things, and clothing is not going out of fashion. Trademarks in Class 25 for clothing (including hats and shoes) came in at (a distant) number 2, with 270,000 published applications worldwide.
China’s trademark activity was greatest in Class 25 followed by Class 35; in both France and Turkey, most activity was in Class 35; Japan stuck to its electronic last, the busiest class for published trademarks was Class 9 for electrical and scientific apparatuses.
Who are the companies leading the trademark charge? Three of the top 10 trademark publishers are pharma (J&J, Novartis, Sanofi). Four are consumer-product stalwarts (Nestle, LG, Unilever, P&G). Disney is the sole entertainment company in the top 10, while Nissan is the only car company. And probably much to Mayor Bloomberg’s chagrin, tobacco-purveying Philip Morris rounded out the top 10.
1This data, along with the other data cited in this article, was compiled by Thomson Reuters in their survey of published trademark applications in 186 trademark registries around the world. Published applications are studied because, in almost all jurisdictions, the next-to-last stop in the trademark-registration process is publication of the application to the world at large. Not all filed applications make it to publication, thus analysis of published applications—rather than merely filed applications—is a better indicator of sustained economic undertakings.