Trademark challenges facing the growing Asia-Pacific market

Methodology: the data used in this article was provided by our CompuMark SAEGIS™ trademark database covering 200 countries and 100 million records.

The years since 2010 have seen unprecedented growth in trademark filing activity around the world. As the global economy recovered from the economic crisis of 2008, trademark applications have been filed in record numbers on major trademark registers, and nowhere has this recovery has been more spectacular than in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

Trademark filing activity has increased each year since 2010 in every region of the world.

Figure 1: Annual trademark filing activity around the world since 2010 (by region)

Source: SAEGIS

In 2010 just over 3.3 million trademark applications were filed worldwide. Five years later – in 2015 – global filing activity passed 5 million applications for the first time. And in 2018 – just three years later – 10.8 million applications were filed.

In 2019 there were over 11.3 million trademark applications filed globally – more than three times as many as at the start of the decade, and double the volume from five years earlier.

Figure 2: Global trademark filing activity 2010 to 2019

Source: SAEGIS

The vast majority of this remarkable growth has come from one single trademark register: Mainland China.

Since 2010, annual growth in each region around the world has consistently been between 3% and 6%, including most of the Asia-Pacific trademark registers. Over the same period the average annual growth at the Chinese trademark register has been an incredible 25%:

Figure 3: Average annual growth in trademark filing activity since 2010 (by region)

Source: SAEGIS

As a result of the accelerated annual growth at the Chinese trademark registry, the influence that Mainland China and the Asia-Pacific region has on global trademark activity has increased each year since 2010.

In 2010 European trademark registers (including the European Intellectual Property Office and national offices for Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom and Spain) received 18% of the world’s trademark applications. North America (including the United States Patent and Trademark Office – the second largest trademark register in the world – Canada and Mexico) accounted for 12%. By 2019 Europe’s share had fallen from 18% to 8%, and North America’s share of worldwide filing activity had fallen from 12% to just 6%.

Mainland China received 31% of all trademark applications filed in the world in 2010. This proportion has grown every year since, and after nine years of unprecedented annual growth the Chinese trademark register now receives 70% of all the trademark applications filed globally.

Figure 4: Contribution of each region to global trademark filing activity (2010 to 2019)

Source: SAEGIS

Trademark registers in the Asia-Pacific region (including Mainland China and India – the world’s third most active register) now account for 80% of trademark filing activity around the world.

Figure 5: Contribution of each region to global trademark filing activity (2010 vs. 2019)

Source: SAEGIS

Foreign trademark applications from Asia-Pacific

Trademark activity in the Asia-Pacific region is not just restricted to local trademark registers. In 2019 applicants from the leading eight trademark locations in Asia-Pacific filed more than 370,000 trademark applications around the world at trademark offices outside their ‘home’ register. Applicants from Mainland China and Hong Kong accounted for 62% of these applications, with applicants from Japan and South Korea accounting for a further 25%.

Figure 6: Number of foreign trademark applications filed from Asia-Pacific (2019)

Source: SAEGIS

Adjusting for population, applicants from New Zealand file a relatively large number of trademark applications both on their home register and on foreign registers.

India had the fastest growing major economy in the world from 2014 to 2018 and in 2019 was the 5th largest economy in the world by Gross Domestic Product, but trademark activity relative to population is still low.

Figure 7: Trademark filing activity adjusted for population size (2019)

Country Population Home register Foreign register
South Korea 51,000,000 3,422 739
New Zealand 5,000,000 1,962 919
Australia 25,000,000 1,769 728
Japan 127,000,000 1,189 452
Singapore 6,000,000 1,029 2,076
India 1,369,000,000 236 5

Source: SAEGIS

Consistent with its position as the world’s most active trademark register, Mainland China was the most popular register for applicants from all major Asia-Pacific trademark countries in 2019 with the exception of applicants from India where the United States was the favored register outside of India.

The United States and the European Union Intellectual Property Office were key foreign registers for applicants from Asia-Pacific, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom and Brazil.

Figure 8: Global trademark applications filed outside home register 2019, country/region

Source: SAEGIS


The Madrid System for international trademark registrations (World Intellectual Property Office – WIPO)

In recent years the Madrid System for international trademark registrations administered by WIPO has been widely expanded into Asia-Pacific. Malaysia, Samoa, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, India, Philippines and New Zealand have all enacted the Madrid protocol system since 2012, joining long term members Mainland China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Mongolia and Vietnam.

Applicants from Mainland China are the leading users of the Madrid System from the Asia-Pacific region – although not by the same margin as non-Madrid applications – and Mainland China is the most frequently designated register in Asia-Pacific by all Madrid System applicants. India joined the Madrid System in 2013. India has become a popular register for designations by foreign applicants, but Indian applicants are only applying for International Registrations at WIPO in small numbers.

Figure 9: Use of the Madrid System for international trademarks in Asia-Pacific (2019)

Source: SAEGIS



Following a number of years of strong growth – particularly in Mainland China – Asia-Pacific is now the most significant region in the world for trademark activity, both on local trademark registers and filing around the world. As they expand into international markets, Asia-Pacific brands will be challenged to maintain their growth into increasingly crowded foreign registers and protect their trademark rights in a highly competitive global economy.

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