15 September 2010Innovative activity and demand for intellectual property (IP) rights declined at the height of the global economic crisis, but began to recover this year, the United Nations agency charged with protecting inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and copyright said in a report released today. The report by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) also documents how the uncertainty associated with the crisis led companies to readjust their innovation strategies.As the world economy started to slow sharply in 2008, an estimated 1.91 million patent, 3.3 million trademark, and 660,000 industrial design applications were filed across the world, according to the report, the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2010.Compared to 2007, these figures represent a slowdown in the growth of patent and industrial design applications and an actual decline in the number of trademark applications, the report added.While the bulk of the report focuses on 2008 data – the last year for which complete worldwide statistics are available – a special section on the economic crisis looks at preliminary IP filing data for 2009 for the largest IP offices.These data reveal a drop in patent, trademark, and industrial design applications at many of these offices. In the majority of cases, non-resident applications were more negatively affected by the crisis than resident applications, suggesting a greater short-term focus on home markets.The report notes that beyond 2009, there are grounds for optimism as patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system and international trademark registrations filed under the Madrid system have returned to growth.The Madrid system offers a trademark owner the possibility of having it protected in several countries by simply filing one application directly with his or her own national or regional trademark office.“The experience of the first six months of 2010 points to a modest recovery in PCT applications and a stronger rebound in Madrid international registrations,” said Francis Gurry, the WIPO Director General. “The experience of the first six months of 2010 points to a modest recovery in PCT applications and a stronger rebound in Madrid international registrations.”“The post-crisis innovation landscape will invariably look different from that of a decade ago,” Mr. Gurry added. “While the strength of the recovery remains uncertain, there will likely be a continuing geographic shift of innovative activity toward new players, especially in Asia,” he added.Meanwhile, the annual meetings of WIPO Member States are scheduled to be begin in Geneva on Monday, with a two-day high-level ministerial segment on the theme “Innovation, Growth and Development: The Role of Intellectual Property and Member States’ National Experiences.”Some 70 ministers have confirmed their participation in the 10-day event, reflecting the importance of intellectual property among senior policy-makers.The ministerial segment will allow top officials to exchange experiences related to their respective national IP strategies and priorities. They will also provide guidance to WIPO on future work directions.The first high-level segment last year was welcomed by participants as an important means of raising the profile of IP issues among senior policy-makers, at both the national and international level.Two cultural events – one organized with Morocco and the other with Oman – will be held on the sidelines of the Assemblies of WIPO Member States. The Moroccan event will feature the various facets of the country’s cultural heritage. The Omani exhibition will showcase the multiplicity of the country’s craft industries.