Research finds European companies invest more in trademark teams; resource disparity revealed

New research from Hogan Lovells has found that European businesses are investing more in their trademark teams than their counterparts in North America and Asia-Pacific.

Across the board, European brands reported – on average – larger trademark teams (see Figure 1), with trademark department staffing levels almost double those of their Asia-Pacific counterparts.

As to how these teams are composed, while there is a notable increase in the number of qualified lawyers when comparing smaller and larger portfolio owners, for those with 5,000+ marks the number of Bar-qualified (or equivalent) team members plateaus. Where the difference occurs is in non-lawyer staff. For example, teams overseeing between 5,001 and 10,000 marks average 4.6 qualified lawyers and 4.6 non-lawyer staff. Teams overseeing 40,000+ marks boast an average of 7 qualified lawyers – but the number of non-lawyer staff soars to 16.8.

While trademark teams in Asia-Pacific headquartered companies are smaller, the region itself continue to dominate in terms of where prosecution spend is directed. Nearly half (45%) of respondents reported that they spend a higher proportion of their prosecution spend in east Asian countries (including China, Japan and Korea), compared to one-quarter identifying North America and one-fifth the European Union.

By contrast, enforcement spend is more widely distributed. At 23%, Europe is most consistently the location of high spend on enforcement, followed by East Asia (18%). North America accounts for 13%, followed closely by the Middle East (10%) and Central and South America (9%).

As it stands, China (30%) and India (9%) are considered the most challenging countries for enforcement. Looking ahead, the greatest increases in trademark enforcement expenditure are predicted to be directed in Asia (60% of respondents), followed by North America (15%) and the European Union (10%).

In terms of other key findings, the report reveals the following:

  • Just over half of respondents expect artificial intelligence (AI) to affect their approach to prosecution within the next five years (with this expected to have the biggest impact on clearance searches).
  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) expect AI to significantly affect enforcement efforts within the next decade – with online infringement searches predicted to be the most affected activity.
  • Overall, 93% of respondents believe that AI will have a positive impact on their work.

The Hogan Lovells Brand Benchmarking survey polled 200 brand owners from across the globe (with companies headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region representing the largest group of respondents (58%), followed by Europe (23%) and North America (19%)). In terms of team size, over 80% of respondents had 10 or fewer employees in their global trademark team, with one- third drawing on two or fewer professionals.

Figure 1: How many people are there in your in-house trademark team?

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