Trademark applications are a good indicator of innovation

Trademark applications are a good indicator of innovation and trends in technology. That is the conclusion of a European study by the EUIPO. The European Union Intellectual Property Office looked into how often companies applied in the period 1996-2020 for an EU trademark for goods and services that relate to climate protection and sustainability. 

In 2019, the European Commission announced the aim to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. Intellectual property (IP) has an important role to play in that. After all, IP rights are a stimulus for the development of new technologies, for bringing new products and services on to the market and for making existing products more sustainable. The EUIPO study ‘Green EU trade marks’ shows that the number of applications for green trademark registrations reflects the increasing call for measures and innovations that are sustainable, and that trademark applications are therefore an important innovation indicator. 

2 million green applications for trademark registrations analysed 

The EUIPO analysed 2 million EU trademark applications from the period 1996-2020 for so-called ‘green’ groen merkterms related to the protection of the environment and sustainability, such as ‘wind energy’, ‘solar energy’ and ‘recycling’. More than half (52%) of all green EU trademark applications relate to the saving and the production of energy. 18% of the applications are concerned with measures to counter pollution. Almost 10% of the applications relate to transport.  

Results of the study 

The EUIPO study shows that approximately 11% of all EU trademark applications in the Netherlands and Luxembourg concern green trademarks. In Belgium the figure is approximately 8%. The study also shows that SMEs play an important part when it comes to applications for green trademarks. While large companies are more active, with 12.7% of applications in the period 2015-2020 being for green trademarks, the part played by SMEs is a significant one with 10%.  

Significance of the study 

Studies relating to innovation and trends in technology often look at patent statistics. The EUIPO study is the first of its kind to show that the number of trademark applications can also be viewed as an indicator of innovation. It has been known for some time that the development of trademark applications is linked to the economic performance of a country or region. Studies such as this also make the link between trademark applications and innovation performance on a company, national or regional level clearer.

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