18 August 2023

UKIPO sees steadying application numbers after fluctuations during the pandemic and Brexit

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has released a report outlining statistics regarding patents, trade marks, designs, and hearings for 2022. The data shows an increase in patent applications during the period 2021-2022, while trade mark and design applications experienced a decline.

Patent applications and publications increase

The data highlights a 3.4% increase in patent applications, to 19,486 overall, with a slight (0.6%) rise in domestic applications and a notable 23% increase in Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications. Following a recent trend of declining patent applications through the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, this upturn is consistent with other major patent applicant countries such as France, Germany, and Japan. Moreover, while patent publications climbed by 4.3% to 11,790, there was a 2.9% decrease in patent grants, to 10,578. Despite this decline, the number was still the second highest annual number of patent grants the IPO has ever observed. The IPO has outlined that this is due to an internal initiative to reduce the backlog of patent cases under examination. It will be interesting to see whether this pattern continues.

Decline in trade mark applications and registrations

In contrast to the record-high number of applications witnessed in 2021, trade mark applications saw a 19.2% decrease in 2022, to 158,821. Furthermore, the number of trade mark registrations declined by 3.5%, to 163,104. This downward trend can be attributed to a steadying of application numbers following the surge caused by the UK’s departure from the European Union. This is the first year that the IPO has seen a higher number of registrations than applications, as a result of processing the backlog of applications from the previous year’s surge. China and the USA led with the highest numbers of non-UK based applications, however, both saw a significant decrease compared to 2021.

More trade mark oppositions filed

The IPO also plays a role in the resolution of intellectual property disputes by conducting hearings and overseeing tribunals, with trade marks constituting a majority of hearing activities. There was a substantial rise in trade mark oppositions filed, increasing from 8,080 in 2021 to 8,827 in 2022.

Rise in design registrations and decrease in applications

There has been a dramatic 1114.9% increase in design applications between 2015 and 2021. Although there was a 6.7% dip in design applications from 2021 to 2022, to 67,315, a substantial 16.9% increase in design registrations was recorded, to 70,098. Similar to trade marks, a decline in international applications was noted.

Looking forward

The IPO’s comprehensive report for 2022 offers valuable insights into the dynamic trends of patent, trade mark, design, and hearing activities. The IP landscape has experienced a lot of change due to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which we are still seeing, with the initial surge and now decline of trade mark and design applications, and the increase in patent applications after the decrease due to the pandemic. The IPO’s new initiative to reduce the backlog of cases is also showing a notable improvement in the amount of grants and registrations, and it will be interesting to see how these trends develop.