World Intellectual Property Indicators Report 2020


The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) released the World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) 2020 Report (the “Report”), noting that the filing activities of trademarks and industrial designs rose in 2019 while filing of patent applications dropped by 3% as compared to 2018.Press release from WIPO can be found: LinkProviding a gist of macro trends in innovation and creativity annually since 2009, the Report includes IP data from 150 national and regional offices on filing activities of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, plant varieties, geographical indications and revenue data in relation to the publishing industry in 21 countries in 2019.We will highlight the global figures as well as some key statistics in relation to Hong Kong. Ranking of Total IP Activities in 2019China received the highest number of applications for patents, trademarks and designs last year. The United States (U.S.) ranked the second for patent and trademark applications while Germany is the second for design applications. Japan recorded the third top filing for patents and trademarks, while the Republic of Korea ranked third for design applications.In terms of origin of applications, Chinese residents filed the highest number of patent, trademark and design applications. Residents of the U.S. and Japan are the second and third top-filing applicant respectively for patent filing. For trademarks, the order reversed with Japanese and American being the second and third top-fining applicant respectively. Lastly for designs, residents of the Republic of Korea and Germany ranked the second and third respectively. PatentsThe number of patent applications filed in 2019 was 3% less than the 2018, having 3.2 million patent applications in total.The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) received 1.4 million patent applications, which is more than twice than the amount received by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) (621,453 applications), followed by the IP offices of Japan (307,969 applications), the Republic of Korea (218,975 applications), and the European Patent Office (181,479 applications).The top five offices accounted for 84.7% of total patent filings. China has ranked first in patent applications since 2017, however experiencing a sharp decline of 9.2% in 24 years. The Report noted that the change was attributed to both an optimization of application procedure and improvement of application quality in China.Hong Kong ranked the 13th having 10,532 patent applications filed with the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department (HKIPD) in 2019, with 37.3% of applications filed by non-residents.In terms of field of technology featured in the published patent applications in 2018 (being the latest year for which complete data are available due to delay between application and publication), computer technology was the most frequently featured technology in published patent applications, followed by electrical machinery, measurement, medical technology and digital communication. These five fields contributed to 28.4% of all published applications globally. TrademarksAbout 11.5 million trademark applications covering 15.2 million classes were filed worldwide in 2019, which is almost 630,000 more than the 2018 figures (5.8% increase). Although this represent the 10th consecutive year of growth after the global financial crisis, the rise was considerably lower than the increases in 2018 and 2017 (being 18.9% in 2018 and 30.2% in 2017).In terms of filing activity which refers to the total number of classes specified in trademark applications (“class count”), CNIPA ranked first with 7.8 million class count, followed by the USPTO (672,681 class count), IP offices of Japan (546,244 class count), the Islamic Republic of Iran (454,925 class count) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) (407,712 class count). The five top offices accounted for about 65% of worldwide trademark filing activity.At most offices, a vast majority of the trademark applications was filed by residents (84.3%) seeking protection within their domestic jurisdiction as opposed to non-residents (15.7%).For Hong Kong, it is the top 23rd office for trademark applications, received 76,892 class count in total in 2019, with 29,179 applications filed by residents. Industrial DesignsAbout 1.04 million industrial design applications containing 1.36 million designs were filed worldwide in 2019, which is 1.7% more than the figures in 2018. Since 2005, industrial design applications have increased every year, except for 2014.Design count, which is the number of designs contained in industrial design applications, was used to measure the filing activity.The CNIPA received applications containing 711,617 designs, followed by the EUIPO (113,319) and the IP offices of the Republic of Korea (69,360), the U.S. (49,848) and Turkey (46,202). Together, the top 20 offices accounted for 93.5% of all designs in applications.Hong Kong received 4,974 applications in 2019, with 1,481 and 3,493 filed by residents and non-residents respectively. Plant VarietiesAround 21,430 plant variety applications were filed in 2019, representing a rise of 7.8% as compared to 2018. This is the 4th consecutive year of growth.The CNIPA received the most application (7,834 applications, 36% in total), followed by the Community Plant Variety Office of the European Union (CPVO) (3,525) and relevant offices of the U.S. (1,590), Ukraine (1,238) and Japan (822). It was reported that the combined share of applications received at the top five offices increased from 65.5% in 2018 to 70% in 2019 due to the pronounced growth experienced by China.No relevant data for Hong Kong was provided in the report. Geographical Indications (GIs)GIs are signs used on products which correspond to a specific geographical origin and indicate the qualities, characteristics or reputation that are due to that origin.In 2019, there were around 55,800 geographic indications in force worldwide. Germany (14,289) received the largest number of GIs in force, followed by China (7,834), Hungary (6,494), the Czech Republic (6,071) and Italy (5,840).In terms of types of products on which in-force GIs were used, GIs relating to “wines and spirits” accounted for about 56.6% of the total, followed by agricultural products and foodstuffs (34.2%) and handicrafts (3.5%).In Hong Kong, the HKIPD reported 50 GIs in force in 2019. Publishing IndustryThe Report also provided data as to the revenue generated by the trade and educational sections of the published industry of 21 countries.The 2019 total sales and licensing revenue for the trade and educational sectors of these 21 countries generated a combined revenue of USD 67.3 billion in 2019. The U.S. reported the largest net revenue (USD 23.5 billion), followed by Japan (USD 16.1 billion), the Republic of Korea (USD 6.2 billion), Germany (USD 5.6 billion), the United Kingdom (USD 5.4 billion) and France (USD 3 billion).Trade sector revenue accounted for 50% or more of total revenue for 16 of the 19 countries for which data by sector are available, while for the educational sector, revenue accounted for over half of total revenue in Brazil (57.9%), Mexico (74.2%) and Turkey (59.5%).Hong Kong generated USD 64.3 million revenue for the trade sector while data for the educational sectors was not available. If you would like to know more about this topic, please contact our Managing Partner, Mr Alan Chiu (email:, or our Trainee Solicitor, Ms Alice Wong (email: