L’Oreal revealed as top filer of EU trademarks in 2018 as applications to EUIPO rise 5%

It's been another record-breaking year at the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), with filings at an all-time high. In an exclusive guest post, Robert Reading from CompuMark reveals the top corporate filers at the EUIPO in 2018 and looks at some of the key trends from the registry in the past 12 months.

As director of custom & managed solutions at CompuMark, Reading is an expert at analysing trademark data from IP offices around the world. Below, he looks at the leading filers from last year, and explains why Chinese applicants to the EU often take a very different approach than applicants from other countries.

Guest post

As measured by data from the World Bank, the European Union is the second largest consumer market in the world, behind only the United States and well ahead of China and Japan in terms of consumer spending. Unsurprisingly, then, this makes the EUIPO one of the key trademark registers for brand owners. It is for this reason, perhaps, that 2018 was yet another record year for trademark applications at the EUIPO, with nearly 125,000 EU trademark (EUTM) applications received in the 12 month period. While growth was not necessarily as high as recent years, filing volume still grew by nearly 5% compared with 2017.

Total EU trademark applications: 2015-2018


When it comes to the leading applicants at the EUIPO, previous years have always been dominated by the world’s largest and most recognisable brands. However, as the list of the top 50 EUTM applicants reveals below, data from 2018 suggests that this long-running trend may be changing.

Top 50 applicants to the EUIPO in 2018: top 50 by application volume

 Rank  Applicant name  Industry sector  Country  2018 EUTM applications 
      1 L'Oreal  Cosmetics  France                  253
      2 Huawei Technologies Co Ltd  Technology  China                  244
      3 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd  Electronics  South Korea                  178
      4 Design Works Studios LLC  Casino Gaming  USA                  162
      5 Zitro IP SÀrL  Casino Gaming  Luxembourg                  157
      6 LG Electronics Inc  Electronics  South Korea                  155
      7 Mercadona SA  Supermarket  Spain                  105
      8 IGT: A Nevada Corporation  Casino Gaming  USA                    95
      9 Philip Morris  Tobacco  Switzerland                    90
    10 Amazon  Technology  USA                    88
    11 British American Tobacco  Tobacco  UK                    84
 =12  BASF SE  Chemicals  Germany                    82
 =12  Bayer  Pharmaceuticals  Germany                    82
    14 Sky International AG  Communications  Switzerland                    81
    15 Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications  Communications  China                    79
    16 Eli Lilly And Company  Pharmaceuticals  USA                    78
    17 Beiersdorf AG  Skin Care  Germany                    74
    18 Drylock Technologies Naamloze Vennootschap  Hygiene Products  Belgium                    73
    19 Novartis AG  Pharmaceuticals  Switzerland                    71
 =20  Beauty Brands Concept   Cosmetics  Poland                    66
 =20  The Procter & Gamble Company  Consumer Goods  USA                    66
 =20  Kronoplus Limited  Construction Material  Cyprus                    66
    23 UPL Europe Ltd  Agrochemicals  UK                    63
    24 Johnson & Johnson  Pharmaceuticals  USA                    61
    25 JT International SA  Tobacco  Switzerland                    60
    26 Unilever NV  Consumer Goods  Netherlands                    58
    27 Jaguar Land Rover Limited  Motor Vehicles  UK                    57
 =28  Eveline Cosmetics Brand Concept Development   Cosmetics  Poland                    56
 =28  Warner Bros Entertainment Inc  Entertainment  USA                    56
 =30  Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft  Motor Vehicles  Germany                    55
 =30  ADP Gauselmann GMBH  Casino Gaming  Germany                    55
 =32  Biofarma  Pharmaceuticals  France                    54
 =32  Henkel Ag & Co KGAA  Consumer Goods  Germany                    54
 =34  Novomatic AG  Casino Gaming  Austria                    52
 =34  Ascenza Agro  Agrochemicals  Portugal                    52
 =36  Netflix Studios LLC  Entertainment  USA                    50
 =36  Tencent Holdings Limited  Technology  Cayman Islands (China)                    50
    38 Bora Creations SL  Cosmetics  Spain                    49
    39 Whole Foods Market IP LP  Supermarket  USA                    48
 =40  Antolini Luigi & C SPA  Stone Products  Italy                    46
 =40  Bristol-Myers Squibb Company  Pharmaceuticals  USA                    46
 =40  Marina Eduardovna Amaffi  Fragrances  Russian Federation                    46
 =43  Orveda Limited  Skin Care  UK                    45
 =43  Coty Brands Management GMBH  Luxury Goods  Germany                    45
 =45  Google  Technology  USA                    43
 =45  Monster Energy Company  Energy Drinks  USA                    43
 =45  Aphria Inc  Cannabis  Canada                    43
 =48  Ciech Sarzyna SA  Agrochemicals  Poland                    40
 =48  Lincoln Global Inc  Welding Equipment  USA                    40
 =48  Siemens Aktiengesellschaft  Automation  Germany                    40
 =48  Miles-Bramwell Executive Services Ltd  Weight Loss  UK                    40

As the list reveals, cosmetics giant L’Oreal was the leading filer of EUTMs in 2018, with 253 EUTM applications across the year. Chinese technology company Huawei was second with 244 applications, followed by another technology company, Samsung Electronics, with 178 applications. These three conglomerates have featured regularly among the top EUTM filers in recent years, but some firms made a first appearance; Zitro IP from Luxembourg, for example, has not featured in the top 100 applicants previously, while Design Works Studios had not filed a single EUTM prior to 2018.

Interestingly, while also appearing highly in the list, Samsung Electronics took an unusual approach to its EUTMs in 2018 by using 11 separate law firms to file its applications to the EUIPO.  Other companies, including Huawei (which used three law firms), LG Electronics (three), Mercadona (three) and Guangdong Oppo Mobile (six) also split their EUTM filing work between multiple law firms.

Curiously, many major brands that have featured in the top 50 EUTM applicants previously do not make an appearance in the 2018 list, although some do feature in the top 100. They include Apple, Skechers (joint 52nd place), Lidl, Merck (joint 58th), Merck (62nd), World Wrestling Entertainment, Daimler, Robert Bosch (joint 65th), Baidu, Alibaba, Mars and E.I. Dupont (joint 73rd), Target Brands and Pepsico (=80th). 

In terms of the leading individual applicant, Marina Eduardovna Amaffi led the ranking by filing 46 EUTM applications in 2018 for fragrances, mostly featuring ornate designs for perfume bottles. The website 'amaffi.com' is currently a holding page stating “coming soon”, so perhaps Europe is about to see a new range of luxury fragrances from Russia? Another interesting new entry for 2018 was Aphria Inc from Canada. Its entrance on to the list is the first time a company from the cannabis sector has made the top 50 (with 43 EUTM applications in total) and could be a sign of things to come if the experience of the Canadian trademark register is any guide. However, cannabis-related trademark applications have a high failure rate in Canada, although none of Aphria’s applications at the EUIPO have reached the registration stage so far.

Outside of specific filers, traditional industry sectors continued to dominate the filing landscape in 2018, with pharmaceutical (six applicants in the ranking), cosmetics (four), agrochemicals (three), consumer goods (three) and tobacco (three) companies together taking 19 of the top 50 positions. The appearance of three casino gaming companies in the top 10 of the rankings list, and five in the top 50, suggests an industry sector that is both growing in size and that values constant innovation (and therefore new trademark applications) to keep their product “fresh”.

When it comes to the countries where these leading applicant originate from, the United States and Germany were the leading filers within the top 50, with companies from these two countries making up 40% of the list. Although in 2018 EUTM applications from China (12,019) exceeded applications from the USA (11,395), Chinese applicants tended to be file low numbers of applications individually but with a large number of different applicants. Therefore, there were only two Chinese companies in the top 50 list (plus Tencent, which filed trademarks using an entity in the Cayman Islands).

However, one area in which Chinese applicants did dominate the EUIPO register in 2018 was success rate. EUTM applications from China had a very high registration level (7,852 applications have been accepted for registration) compared with the refusal/withdrawal level (only 98 applications out of 12,019 filed in 2018 by Chinese applicants have been rejected or withdrawn). Therefore, Chinese applicants achieved 80 registrations for each unsuccessful application. On the other hand, US applicants achieved 17 registrations per failed application, while German applicants matched the overall register average of 15 registrations for each failed application.

EU trademark success index by applicant country: registrations per failed application



While these startling figures initially suggests that Chinese applicants have a level of trademark filing knowledge above those from the USA and Germany, the reality appears to be more mundane. Specifically, EUTM applications filed by Chinese applicants tend to be extremely unusual by Western standards, and therefore less likely to be considered descriptive or to clash with existing marks.

It isn't just success rate where Chinese applicants to the EU differ from other applicants, as they also take a different approach when it comes to the number of classes they file in. Prior to March 2016, an EUTM application could cover up to three Nice classes for a single filing fee. The reason for this is because there was effectively no cost for adding a second and third class to an application, so applicants typically filed in three classes (the average number of classes for an EUTM application filed in 2015 was 2.85). In March 2016, the EUIPO introduced a new pricing structure with fees being payable for each class included in the application. This has had a surprisingly small impact in the average number of classes when look at total applicants, with the 2018 average falling by only 10% to 2.58. However, for Chinese applicants in 2018 the average number of Nice classes in an application was only 1.76, suggesting that Chinese applicants tend to be particularly cost conscious.

EU trademark applications: average number of Nice classes


Looking at individual classes on the EUIPO trademark register, class 9 (technology) and class 35 (retail services) were the most frequently used Nice classes in 2018, with each appearing in approximately 10% of all applications. Furthermore, classes 42 (computer software), 41 (entertainment) and 25 (clothing) completed the top five. However, for Chinese applicants the pattern was very different – over 22% of all Chinese applicants filed in Class 9, with Classes 25, 11 (home appliances), 21 (household utensils) and 28 (toys) next in importance.

EU trademark applications 2018: Nice class frequency (click for full-size)


Of all the trends from the 2018 EU trademark filing data, one thing that isn’t reflected is Brexit. With the United Kingdom set to leave the EU in 2019 – and the considerable uncertainty over how that will play out – it is hard to predict what will happen on the EUIPO register in 2019. Although IP rights in the EU and the UK will be protected regardless of the final form of Brexit, there is still a lack of clarity on the timetable for the transfer of existing EUTM registrations onto the UK trademark register. For that reason, then, it is likely that the EUIPO register could see a further slowdown in filing volume in 2019 (or perhaps even a small decline), and the UK register could see a significant increase. But despite the rise of EUTMs from the casino gaming industry, it is unlikely that anyone would be willing to place bets on the outcome just yet...

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