Chapter 3
Priority date:
25 Nov 2015
29, 30
Word, Device

IP Report 2018

Trade marks

A trade mark uniquely identifies a product or a business. It can be anything from a logo to alphanumeric characters, words or aspects of packaging. The registration of a trade mark, requiring renewal every 10 years, gives its owner the exclusive right to use it in Australia and authorise others to do so. Only registered trade marks are allowed to use the ® symbol.

Trade mark applications: In 2017, trade mark applications received by IP Australia grew to a record high of 76 594 (Figure 6). This represents a bounce back of seven per cent, following a three per cent drop in 2016. Growth in 2017 was entirely due to an increase of 25 per cent in filings by non-residents, while resident applications fell by about two per cent.

Figure 6: Trade mark applications by domicile, 2008-17

  • Red bar Resident
  • Pink bar Non-resident

Trade mark applications can be lodged either directly or through WIPO's Madrid system.1 In Australia, the latter is used almost exclusively by non-residents. In 2017, total direct applications increased by three per cent while use of Madrid applications grew strongly by 27 per cent.

Applicant origin: Resident applicants accounted for about 61 per cent of trade mark applications filed in 2017. Historically, the vast majority of domestic applications come from SMEs and individuals.2 Moreover, the non-resident share of total applications, at 39 per cent, is a record high relative to the 35 per cent average of the past 10 years.

Accounting for 29 per cent of all non-resident applications in 2017, the US remains their largest source. Moreover, relative to their 2016 level, applications originating from China more than doubled in 2017. This increased China's share of non-resident applications to 15 per cent. Strong growth in filings from the UK and Germany was also observed.

Box 2: TM-Link: a world-first international trade mark database

Globalisation has brought increasing numbers of businesses who operate internationally and manage their IP strategy on a global basis and file for IP rights in multiple jurisdictions. This has caused trade mark registers around the world to grow but created challenges for regulators and policy analysts in their attempts to track companies’ use of this important IP right. The absence of a robust means for matching trade marks across jurisdictions has hindered rigorous empirical research. In an initiative to address these issues, IP Australia, in collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology, has created a new database, TM-Link, which enables matching of trade marks across jurisdictions. This is the first international trade mark database of this type and already includes more than 10 million trade marks from Australia, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand and the USA.

TM-Link utilises a neural network to identify equivalent trade marks in different jurisdictions, and assign them a common identification marker (ID) which is then used to link trade marks across jurisdictions. Trade marks are first identified as potential matches by considering similar trade mark text, applicant names and Nice classes. The neural network then determines whether these images are a proper match, based on a combined image of both trade mark text and image using state-of-the-art imaging technology developed by Swinburne University of Technology. In addition, a trade mark labelling game has been developed to improve the training data on which the neural network classifies the information, presenting a pair of suggested matched trade marks and inviting the user to confirm the match.

The beta version of TM-Link was launched late last year and has attracted considerable interest from IP offices around the world as well as from trade mark attorney firms and large brand companies. IP Australia intends to make the database more accessible to users and progressively extend its scope to incorporate extra trade mark data from other participating IP offices as they seek to join the project.

As Figure 7 shows, ALDI Foods and Samsung Electronics each generated more than 100 trade mark applications in 2017. Although a few large businesses may lodge several applications at one time, SMEs collectively account for the majority of all trade mark filings.

Figure 7: Trade mark applications 2017: Top 5

Top 5 AUS applicants: 152 ALDI Foods, 87 Aristocrat Technologies, 67 Conquest Crop Protection, 54 BlueScope Steel, 44 Harvey Norman. Top 5 international applicants: 113 Samsung Electronics, 95 Johnson and Johnson, 89 Apple, 73 L’OREAL, 70 Lidl Stiftung and Co Top 5 nice classes. Class 9 - apparatus and instruments: 13, 599 applications, 18% growth. Class 35 - advertising: 13, 212 applications, 6% growth. Class 41 - education 11, 047 applications, 6% growth. Class 42 - scientific and tech services: 8, 374 applications, 14% growth. Class 25 - clothing, footwear and headgear: 6, 936 applications, 13% growth. Top 5 filings in Australia by country of origin. Australia: 2016: 47 053, 2017: 46 352. United States: 2016: 7 540, 2017: 8 755. China: 2016: 2 252, 2017: 4 547. United Kingdom: 2016: 2 044, 2017: 2 371. Germany: 2016: 1 685, 2017: 1 897

Applicant origin by Australian states and territories: Only two out of the eight states and territories — Queensland (QLD) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)— recorded positive growth in trade mark applications (Figure 8). Aside from Victoria (VIC), with a modest drop of one percent, the remaining states (including Tasmania (TAS), Northern Territory (NT), South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA)) experienced decreases ranging from three to seven per cent. Together, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria (VIC) — home to 58 per cent of Australia's population3 — accounted for 66 per cent of all resident applications.

Figure 8: Trade mark applications by state and territory, 2016 and 2017

Map of Australia showing Trade mark applications in 2016 and 2017 by states and territories, with the figues in the following table










7 961


13 606

17 678


2 940

3 654



8 321


13 419

17 108


2 828

3 472











Trade mark classes: The Nice Classification system is an international classification of goods and services, which categorises trade marks into 45 classes. The classification is updated every five years by WIPO. In Australia, a single trade mark application can nominate multiple classes, making it possible to use one trade mark to brand several products falling under different classes. In 2017, a total of 139 739 classes were nominated in the 76 594 trade mark applications lodged, an average of 1.8 classes per application (Figure 9).

Figure 9: Trade mark classes and applications filed, 2008-17

  • Purple square Applications
  • Yellow triangle Classes

In tandem with the strong growth in applications, the number of trade mark classes filed for increased by eight per cent in 2017. Goods classes accounted for about 58 per cent of filed classes, which is similar to 2016.

As in previous years, the three classes with the most applications in 2017 were scientific measuring and weighing apparatus with 13 599 applications (Class 9) increasing 18 per cent from 2016, advertising and business functions with 13 212 applications (Class 35) up six per cent, and education and entertainment services with 11 047 applications (Class 41) up six per cent. Together, these three classes represented 27 per cent of the total number of trade mark classes filed for.

Australians filing overseas: The 2016 international filing data obtained from WIPO were still incomplete in March when this report went to press due to the absence of data on foreign trade mark applications in China. Given China recorded more than two million non-resident applications in 2014 (the latest year of complete Chinese filing data), WIPO's published global total for 2016 of just over seven million applications (up by 16 per cent from 2015) is a significant underestimate of the true level of activity.4

The available data show that in 2016 Australian resident entities lodged 16 645 trade mark applications overseas but, as explained above, this significantly underestimates Australia's level of overseas filing. The 2014 data shows, with 2920 applications, China is the most preferred destination for Australian trade mark applications abroad while the US is the next most popular destination with 2585 applications.

Although applications data is incomplete, data on the number of classes filed abroad by Australians is complete. In 2016, Australians filed abroad for a total of 38 939 classes. By this metric, Australian trade mark filings abroad have been on a strong upward trend since 2009 (Figure 10), with an average annual growth rate of 13 per cent. This is indicative of increasing export interest by Australian businesses in diversified markets. With 20 per cent growth in 2016, China overtook the US to become the most preferred destination for trade mark classes filed abroad by Australians.

Figure 10: Level and growth in trade mark classes, Australian-origin filings abroad, 2007-16

  • Purple square Trade mark class count
  • Red bar Growth in classes filed abroad

Source: WIPO (2017), IP Statistics Data Center.

End notes

  1. The Madrid system allows filing of trade mark applications in multiple jurisdictions.
  2. IP Australia (2017), Australian Intellectual Property Report 2017, Canberra, p. 12 .
  3. ABS (2017), Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2017, cat. no. 3101.0,, accessed 28 February 2018.
  4. [6] WIPO IP Statistics Data Center (December 2017 update); Trademark; Indicator: "Indicator: 1 - Total trademark applications (direct and via the Madrid system)", Report type: "Total count by filing office"; Select office: "World";, 23 January 2018.

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