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The World according to Intellectual Property

  • 24 April 2015
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The economic indicators based on Intellectual Property figures, although little known, are not unrelated to the evolution of international economy, and even less so at the present time, when the competitive factor is increasingly based on the generation of technology and knowledge, these figures being the main channels available for its management.

The products and services based on the best technology and/or design and effort made by companies to establish them in the various markets is clearly reflected by the use of the different Intellectual Property figures and, more specifically, by patents, designs and trademarks.

The annual report of the World Intellectual Property Organization “World Intellectual Property Indicators”, issued last January, offer an analysis which can well serve as a summary of the state of the World according to Intellectual Property, reflecting this by pointing out the countries or markets where patents, designs and trademarks are currently being applied for:

The graphics speak for themselves: the degree of patent concentration in only five areas, the overwhelming push of China (it is worth remembering that the number of patents applied for worldwide increased by 9% in 2013), the low relevance of the position occupied by Europe (in fact, together with Japan, this was the only important area in the world where patent applications decreased), the concentration of design applications in China which confirm it as the ‘world’s factory’ and the greater dispersion of trademark applications.

And what about Spain? Should the Spanish technology market be measured by the number of Spanish patents applied for, the result would be cause for alarm, more so if we include the advanced 2015 closure data according to the CLARKE INDEX:

But, if we show these data in relative terms of patents per million inhabitants, Spain is certainly on the edge of the abyss:

Unfortunately, these numbers become an economic reality, as does its direct effect on the coverage rate of the balance of payments for “Royalties and Revenue from Intangible Assets” which, in 2012, we were able to celebrate at 54% (the best result of the historical series). However, the Bank of Spain warned us that this had already decreased to 46% in 2013, generally reflected by a greater dependence on external technology.

These data should make us think of where we are as a country and make us see which production model we want and which we are really designing.

Given that, according to the IMF, Spain is the 14th largest economy by GDP in the world, we cannot allow ourselves not to appear in the top 20 in the world ranking as regards patent productivity indicators.

This said, not everything has to do with patents nor are all products and services of a technological nature. We should remember that Spain occupies an honorable 13th place in the world ranking of trademark production indicators, and 15th in that of designs. (6th and 8th place in the world ranking if we take into account the ‘statistical distortion’ caused by the figure of the EU Trademark).

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The World according to Intellectual Property