Thanks in large part to the COVID-19 virus, the US economy is looking a lot shakier than it was just months ago. Economic slowdowns can cut down on new trademark filings from both existing businesses (which may be afraid to launch products into a slow market) and from new businesses (who aren’t launching at the same rate they would in a brisker economy).
We took a look at the two countries that have been hardest hit by the virus and have substantial numbers of US applicants – China and Italy (sorry, Iran, you don’t qualify) – to see what might be in the future for the US. The numbers aren’t encouraging.
The first full 5-day week of March in 2020 saw new filings drop by 9% over either 2019 or 2018. Applications from the two main countries with large-scale COVID-19 outbreaks, China and India, dropped especially hard. China’s filing numbers in 2020 were only 41% of their 2019 numbers; Italian filings were only 26% of their 2019 levels.
March (first week) 2020: 8,376 (387 from China; 13 from Italy)
March (first week) 2019: 9,128 (924 from China, 50 from Italy)
March (first week) 2018: 9,172 (677 from China; 70 from Italy)
February 2020 was also off, with new filing dropping by 6% overall from 2019, and about the same rate from 2018. Chinese filings were about half their Feb. 2019 levels and just over 1/3 of their 2018 levels; Italian-based applicants were at only 25% of their 2019 levels.
Feb. 2020: 33,068 (1,215 from China; 54 from Italy)
Feb. 2019: 36,092 (2,194 from China; 202 from Italy)
Feb. 2018: 36,593 (3,066 from China; 284 from Italy)
The foreign-filing drops cannot entirely be blamed on the coronavirus outbreak. The changes for unrepresented foreign applicants were intended to, and, as our prior research suggests, has reduced application numbers in Jan. 2020 and overall.
However, thes precipitous drops in February and the first week of March do, I think, reflect a serious and substantial slowdown in economic activity. If the US sees a similar societal impact from the virus – and it impacts US filings the way it seems to have impacted Chinese and Italian applications in the US – the US trademark filing scene could be hurting, and soon.