COVID-19 is no doubt having a significant impact on corporate budgets.
Immediate budget cuts have been implemented in industries severely hit (hospitality, hotels, bricks & mortar retailers etc.). Other sectors may be less severely impacted in the immediate term, but efforts to preserve cash are leading to budget cuts across most sectors.
An analysis of trade mark filing activity in China across the past 20 years reveals the impact of past health and economic crises. SARS in 2004, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/9, H1N1 and most recently the US-China trade war were all followed by reductions in filing activity.
(Please click on the graph to see a larger version)
This historic data points to reduced filing during times of crisis followed by accelerated activity once the crisis has come to an end. Although COVID-19 is almost unparalleled in its severity, we anticipate activity will begin to return to normal levels in Q3 as brand owners seek to maintain longer term competitive positions and support renewed marketing activities.
What does this mean for IP managers?
- IP Mangers will be focusing on short-term critical matters, as corporate decision making becomes more cautious and centralized in times of economic. uncertainty. Deferring rather than abandoning non-priority activity (e.g. defensive filings, non-critical oppositions) will be critical, to ensure that ground is not lost when economic activity returns.
- We anticipate that COVID-19 will have little impact on the volume of bad faith filings in China. IP mangers may consider letting lower priority applications go unopposed, filing cancellations/invalidations later when budget returns and third party use is apparent.
- The crisis is demonstrating the resilience and ever-increasing value of intellectual assets when compared to many physical assets. IP Managers must continue to articulate this and the long-term value of brand in particular to business stakeholders to ensure that sufficient budgets are available to maintain and develop the business’s competitive position as activity returns.