The Effect of the Pandemic on Trademark Applications

2020 was a difficult year for businesses as humanity started to live through the first global disaster of the millennium, the Covid-19 pandemic. Just as the fluctuations in the economy and our changing work and lifestyles due to long months spent at homes destroyed our understanding of “normal.” As a result, business mentality, preferences and actions taken during the crisis have all changed.

Although it is inevitable for trademark filings to be affected by these changes, the numbers dramatically decreased in the first half of the year and started to gain momentum in the second half. Indeed, when the trademark data of 2020 are examined, it can be easily seen that they were highly influenced by the economic indicators that the pandemic caused.

It is interesting to see how the number of trademark filings were affected from the pandemic, throughout the year, and in comparison with the figures of the previous year. As noted from the graph, below, the number of trademark applications filed in 2020 are lower than the data of the previous year only in March, April and May, since this period can be explained by the sudden entry of “Covid-19” into our lives. In fact, according to the TURKPATENT data, the year 2021 has started off with an increase of 29.2% and 20.5% in January 2020 and February 2020, respectively, as compared to the previous year. The month in which the largest decrease was experienced in trademark applications compared to the last year was April; that is, the month in which the effects of Covid-19 in our country were felt the most.

Graphic 1 Number of TÜRKPATENT Trademark Applications, TURKEY, 2019-2020

Source: https://www.turkpatent.gov.tr/TURKPATENT/statistics/, 28.01.2021

With the beginning of June, with the concept of “new normal” and many economic actors starting to learn to act in crisis, the decline in the number of trademark filings not only ended but, in June, 2020, trademark applications increased by 138.3% as compared to 2019. Undoubtedly, the most important reason for this increase is that the official periods relating to the trademark application processes were suspended between 15 March and 15 June, and the business life, which slowed down for three months, and almost came to a standstill, suddenly returned to “new normal” in June. As of July, the increase in the number of trademark applications increased, and this increase continued until the end of the year. These increases positively affected the overall number of trademark applications. As a matter of fact, the number of trademark applications filed in 2020 increased by 27%, as compared to the numbers in 2019.

Another factor to be considered when interpreting data on trademark applications is whether the applications are made by domestic or foreign owners. Trademark applications made by foreigners can be accepted as an indicator of direct investments in our country. The charts below show the balances created by foreign and domestic applications in 2019 and 2020.

Graphic 2 Number of TÜRKPATENT Trademark Applications, TURKEY, 2019-2020

Source: https://www.turkpatent.gov.tr/TURKPATENT/statistics/, 28.01.2021

Although the number of foreign applications has not decreased when compared to the previous year, the momentum in increase in numbers of the domestic applications could not be sustained. We predict that the percentage of foreign trademark applications in total will be higher once foreign direct investments resume as the effects of the pandemic gradually recede in 2021.

The application data show us that when the economy felt the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, neither a huge increase nor a decrease was observed in overall number of trademark applications because of the increase in the second half of the year offsetting the decrease in the first half in 2020. In 2021, as we expect to start becoming used to the new normal, we predict that we will see trademark applications in higher numbers and spread throughout the year in a balance unlike that of 2020.

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