China IPR

Chinese TM and Design Filings in Europe Showing Continued Positive Trends

EUIPO has issued a report “China EUTM and RCD Focus” on 10 years of China trademark (TM) and registered community design (RCD) filings in the EU.  The report also details the impact of the pandemic on Chinese filings.

The report makes for useful comparisons  with the recent USPTO report on trademark and patent filings from China, my article comparing pandemic Chinese UMP filings and US provisional patents, and trends in Chinese IP litigation overseas from the recent Berkeley Law program.

A few brief takeaways:

  1. China Does Well During the Pandemic: There was a huge (88%) increase in Chinese TM filings at EUIPO in 2020 compared to 2019.  This trend was not shared with other foreign countries.  A significant, but less marked increased was also found in RCD filings (19%). China became the number one filing country for EUTM’s in 2020 and the number two filing country for RCD’s.
  2. The Ten Year Trend Shows Rapid Growth: The TM filing growth should be seen against an average annual growth grate in EUTM filings from China of 33% for the last 10 years.  Chinese RCD annual growth was not far behind at 31%.
  3. New Chinese Entrants to TM and Design Ownership: Huawei is the leader of the leader in EUTM filings, responsible for 50% of the top 10 filings.  However, the vast majority of the filings are done by SME’s (96%).  Both EUTM and RCD filings when compared from 2010-2019 show many new entrants among the top filer group.  These data may be indicators that China’s efforts to expand ownership of IP beyond a few leading companies is showing success.
  4. Shifting Classifications of EUTM and RCD’s Reflecting Business Opportunities:  During the pandemic there was a  “general upsurge” in EUTM class filings for medical, personal and public hygiene, entertainment and household-related goods and products.  During the overall 10 year period prior, electrical apparatus/computers showed the largest increase in overall share of filings and was also the most common Nice Classification (09).
  5. More Direct/Higher Quality Applications:  Although overall TM filings increased, filings using the Madrid system dropped from 38% to 14%.  In other respects, the filings showed increasing familiarity with the European system.  In 2019, the absolute grounds objection rate for EUTMs with Chinese applicants was 3% compared to the overall rate of 7% and the Chinese classification deficiency rate was 2% compared to a 14% rate overall. The only area where the rejection rate was higher for Chinese applicants compared to n the EU average was in filing “formality deficiencies” (3.7% vs. 2.2%).

The report does not discuss the impact of subsidies or other incentives, nor does it generally assess filings in qualitative terms, or correlate high quantity filings with indicia of the quality of the rights or their commercial value. The report also does not disaggregate filings from China by Chinese region.

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