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Study Links Trademark Filings to Innovation and Growth

An interesting new study from researchers at the USPTO, Center for Economic Studies, and the US Census Bureau explores who makes trademark filings and why they do so. 

The paper, “An Anatomy of U.S. Firms Seeking Trademark Registration,” was published in September by the nonprofit, nonpartisan, National Bureau of Economic Research.  

It links USPTO data of trademark filings with census data about the filers. It concludes that companies that make trademark filings are more likely to grow, and more likely to make patent filings, than companies that do not.

Following are some highlights: 

  • The average trademark filer makes about two filings.
  • “When firms successfully leverage trademarks to differentiate goods or services and insulate themselves from copying and competition by registering trademarks, they can achieve faster growth.”
  • “[Y]ounger firms may have more incentive to apply for trademark registration relative to older counterparts.”
  • On average, companies that make a trademark filing upon inception as a company more than triple in size, from roughly two-to-five employees to nearly ten, by year one.
  • Companies that apply to register a trademark tend to grow much faster than companies that do not.
  • “In the period following first trademark filing, treated firms have, on average, approximately 34% higher employment and 24% greater revenue compared to the control group.
  • Almost 50% of firms with both patent and trademark applications filed for their first patents and trademark registrations within a five-year window, which “strongly supports the notion that the two activities are intertwined.”
  • “[W]hile most of the firms that applied to register a trademark did not engage in innovative activity as measured by patent filings or grants, the proportion of trademark filing firms with a patent application is significantly higher than that of all firms.”

The paper also noted that less than three percent of all trademark filings are opposed. While this is small number, the fact that it is not zero demonstrates the perceived value of trademarks. If they weren’t seen as valuable, no one would spend the time and money to oppose someone else’s filing.

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