Applicants from Mainland China have now overtaken domestic United States filers as the largest nationality of applicants for United States trademarks.
Here at CompuMark™ we have been reporting for some time on the increasing volume of applications from Mainland Chinese applicants on national registers around the world. This trend has emerged over the last few years, with Mainland Chinese applicants drawing close to United States applicants in volume of worldwide overseas filings. In recent weeks, however, this trend has seen an unprecedented surge within the United States.
At the beginning of October, our Director of Content Strategy Robert Reading reported that the week commencing September 29 the USPTO saw an astonishing landmark.
After driving increases of more than five times normal filing volumes, Mainland Chinese applicants overtook domestic United States filers as the largest nationality of applicants for United States trademarks.
More than 10,000 applications a week are now being filed by Mainland Chinese brand owners.
Figure 1. 2020 U.S. Trademark applications by owner nationality. Source: CompuMark™
While the exact reason for this surge of applications is unknown, it seems possible it is related to e-commerce websites requiring sellers to have a United States trademark filing in order to export orders from Mainland China to the United States.
The World Trademark Review recently commented on this development:
“The USPTO has struggled with the flood of applications as it has also meant a jump in fraudulent applications. It seems that its rule change in August 2019, requiring foreign applicants to use US registered attorneys, has done little to reduce the incoming applications, and it is worth remembering that a significant chunk of the new applications appear to be using altered images as their specimens of use. Despite obvious effort, it is safe to say that the USPTO’s problems have not yet gone away.”
While far from all of these Mainland Chinese applications are fraudulent, with this volume of applications there is clearly a risk of infringement on existing rights. Our analysts found that many marks appear to be random collections of letters rather than carefully created brands. It is therefore more important than ever for brand owners to ensure they have a robust trademark watching program in place. With increases of 85%+ in filings, an effective monitoring service will guarantee that potentially infringing marks are discovered early, giving plenty of time to file an opposition.
If you’d like to discuss your watch portfolio and ensure your coverage is prepared for this surge in applications, please reach out to your account manager or contact our CompuMark team today.