UK increases trademark applications but lags in patents activity

The UK is in the top 20 of countries filing for patent applications but this is still down on previous years at a time when, with Brexit looming, it should be forging a path.

Despite being within the top 20 countries for patent applications in 2017 the number of patent applications filed in Britain by UK resident individuals and firms has slumped by 2.6% in the past year while the number of patents in force in the UK is flat-lining, according to the latest World Intellectual Property Report 2018 from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and co-operation.

The report highlights that against, the backdrop of solid economic growth worldwide, global intellectual property (IP) filing activity set new records in 2017. Patent filings around the world reached 3.17 million, representing a 5.8% growth on 2016 figures. Trademark filing activity totalled 12.39 million, up 26.8% on 2016.

Mark Tighe (pictured above), chief executive officer of patent tax relief specialists Catax said: “Britain is about to fly the EU nest. What we’d all like to have seen is a set of numbers demonstrating to the world that the UK is not only open for business but continuing to punch above its weight when it comes to innovation. That’s not what we’ve got. This is a stall turn just when we needed to see the afterburners light up.

“The volume of active patents in the UK is flat-lining and that number has only held up thanks to modest growth in the number of applications from non-residents. Those resident here have actually presided over a slump in applications of 2.6%.

“The UK still has the fourth largest number of active patents but starting from a high base is no comfort when the US is posting annual growth of 5.8%. Active patents are important because firms that secure them don’t have to pay as much tax on the profits generated by their inventions.”

Francis Gurry, director general of WIPO said: “China remained the main driver of global growth in IP filings: from already high levels, patent filings in China grew by 14.2% and trademark filing activity by 55.2% making China’s shares of global patent filings and trademarks filing activity 43.6% and 46.3%, respectively. Japan (+24.2%) and the United States of America (+12.6%) also saw strong growth in trademark filing activity but for both almost no growth in patent filings. The Republic of Korea saw a decline in filing activity for patents and trademarks for the second consecutive year. Other notable trends include large increases in trademark filing activity in the Islamic Republic of Iran (+87.9%), the United Kingdom (+24.1%) and Canada (+19.5%). With regard to industrial design filing activity, the United Kingdom (+92.1%), Spain (+23.5%) and Switzerland (+17.9%) saw double-digit growth in 2017.”

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Stephanie Spicer

Stephanie Spicer is an editor at Bonhill Group

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