Intellectual property (IP) filings grew worldwide in 2011 despite the current state of the global economy.

This is according to a new report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which shows how more people and businesses are looking to secure trademarks and patents.

The study found that China now has the biggest patent office in the world, as it dealt with 526,412 applications in 2012, which represents 24.6 per cent of the total market and is more than the US (503,582) and Japan (342,610).

In the previous 100 years, only three other patent offices have held the top spot – the US, Japan and Germany.

A record 4.2 million trademark applications were filed in 2011 – a year-on-year increase of 13.3 per cent – as firms sought to protect their brands online. Once again, China has a big role to play in the increase, as it accounted for 61.8 per cent of growth worldwide.

Brazil (21.6 per cent), the UK (16.4 per cent) and Hong Kong (16.1 per cent) also recorded growth in this area, while South Africa has emerged as the one of the fastest growing filers.

WIPO director general Francis Gurry said: “Sustained growth in IP filings indicates that companies continue to innovate despite weak economic conditions. This is good news, as it lays the foundation for the world economy to generate growth and prosperity in the future.”

He pointed to the figures as evidence that the “geography of innovation has shifted”, as residents of Asian nations show an ever-increasing interest in IP filings. Moving forward, applying for trademarks will become increasingly important for firms looking to secure their domain names.

This is because a range of new suffixes will be gradually rolled out to the market from next year as part of a shake-up of the internet.

IP filings continue to grow
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