WIPO's statistical report "World Intellectual Property Indicators 2009
" has just published on their website. A summary is here
. It does cover up to the end of 2008, but not authoritatively: it notes that "the impact of the economic recession in 2008 is not fully reflected in this report, although signs of a slowdown in the use of IP rights can be seen already in 2007
There is evidence of a significant rise in the rate of design filings over the past decade, with double-digit growth since 2005, reaching 15% in 2007, "thanks largely to increased activity in China
Use of the Hague system itself is a more complex story. From a total of 4,000 filings a year in 2002, the numbers plummeted to 1,000 a year over 2005 to 2007. As half of those applications are "multiples" containing an average of 8 designs, you need to multiply those figures by 4.5 to get the total number of designs registered via Hague, but it is still pretty pathetic as against 40,000 Madrid trademark filings and 150,000 PCT patent filings a year.
You don't have to look far for the explanation of the 2003 filing collapse; that was the year OHIM opened its doors, so that the predominantly European Hague system had a serious competitor. However, a rise in Hague filings of 32% in 2008, despite the economic collapse, suggests that since the EU joined the Hague system at the beginning of 2008, Hague is clawing back business that would otherwise have gone to OHIM. Presumably, these two will at some point reach an equilibrium - until a serious country such as the US, Japan, Korea or China joins Hague and tips the balance further away from OHIM.
There is an interesting aside in the report on foreign design filings. It notes that: "In 2007, the share of total industrial design registrations by non-residents amounted to just 19.8%, which is below the equivalent shares for patents and trademarks. Industrial design protection is sought less frequently in foreign markets, because the products in question are geared mainly toward domestic commercialization.
I have no idea who came up with this rationalisation, but it has a bogus look to me. I think the reasons for low foreign filing rates are twofold: firstly, the Hague international design registration system (unlike Madrid and PCT) does not cover much of the industrialised world, and secondly, worldwide substantive law is far from harmonised which makes international design filing more complex and hence relatively expensive. Both of these failings are, to some extent, WIPO's responsibility, so I suppose it is not too surprising that the report does not mention them.