Intellectual property filings down in 2020 due to COVID-19 — IPOPHL
MANILA, Philippines — Intellectual property (IP) filings or applications for trademarks and other IP creations declined in 2020 — for the first time since the establishment of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).
In a statement on Wednesday, IPOPHL Director General Rowel Barba said that they expected the filings to go down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which gravely stalled the economy due to the long lockdowns and travel restrictions placed.
However, he also remained hopeful that IP filings would bounce back in 2021, considering that the vaccine rollout may start as early as the first quarter of the year.
“The sluggish flow of IP applications last year, which signify lower commitments to new intangible assets, was expected given the economic uncertainties subduing investment appetite,” Barba said.
“But with the gradual opening up of the economy and the anticipated vaccine rollout, we hope to see more fresh investments in IP assets this year,” he added.
According to IPOPHL, IP filings in 2020 went down in almost all categories: trademark applications went down by 10 percent on a year-on-year basis, while patent applications decreased by nine percent.
The office, an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, said that filings for utility models decreased by almost half, while industrial design applications went down by 23 percent, and copyright deposits also lower by 44 percent.
“Resident trademark filers, which accounted for the bulk, declined 10% to 21,034. Filings from non-residents edged down 14% to 6,827 while those made under the international Madrid Protocol slid 8% to 7,413,” IPOPHL said.
“Resident filers for utility models maintained the lion’s share of filings but dove 47% to 1,150. Non-resident applicants decreased slightly by 3% to 85,” it added. “Patent applications by residents went down 6% to 407 while non-residents slid 12% to 322. Foreign filings made under the Patent Cooperation Treaty decreased 9% to 2,919.”
The only category that registered higher filings was the non-resident application for industrial designs, which increased by a meager one percent. On the other hand, resident filers in the same category are down by 37 percent.
Barba hopes that the IP scenario would mimic what happened in 2008, when IP-related activities slowed down due to the Global Financial Crisis. After the year ended, the IPOPHL chief said, IP applications rose as innovators and businesses recovered from the crisis.
“Past global crises have reconstructed industries, eliminating the less efficient firms or compelling a repurposing amongst them while accentuating the competitiveness of the more dynamic and the more agile who recover. And historically, those who put research and innovation at the center of their strategies are those who stand and thrive in the face of disruptions,” Barba said.
“Thus, lower filings may signal a redirection of growth paths, favoring the highly competitive and innovative, rather than stymied innovation,” he added.
Indicators are pointing to higher IP-related activity for 2021: early this month, IPOPHL revealed that more Filipinos participated in the office’s free learning workshop despite most of last year’s meetings being spent online still because of the pandemic.
IPOPHL said that participants for its Learn, Be Empowered, Adopt, and Profit from IP (LEAP) sessions in 2020 spiked to 44 percent compared to the previous year — despite three months of inactivity brought by the strict lockdowns last March.
Barba said back then that it might be due to the economy’s contraction, which forced people to value their IP assets more. According to him, IPOPHL’s shift to a more digitized platform would also widen the office’s scope, hence bringing more applications by 2021.
“Digitizing will allow not only wider access of IPOPHL services among inventors and creators but will, just as importantly, elevate our quality of service in a way that will entice local and global stakeholders to protect their IP and create value for the future,” he claimed.