The influence of COVID-19 on EUTM filings during the pandemic

The EUIPO Observatory (‘EUIPO’) has recently released a comprehensive report examining trends and tendencies in EUTM filings throughout and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report draws upon data spanning from 2001 to 2022, providing valuable insights into the evolution of trademark filings during these unprecedented times.

With over three years elapsed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report seeks to comprehensively examine its impact on EU Trademark (‘EUTM’) filings. The analysis by EUIPO primarily focuses on the period spanning from 2020 to 2022, coinciding with the peaks of the pandemic, with the aim to provide an understanding of the fluctuations observed during this time frame.

The report starts off by scrutinizing the long-term evolution of EUTM filings, concentrating on the years 2020 to 2022 to assess the specific effects of the pandemic.

Furthermore, EUIPO examines the classification-specific trends within EUTM filings, particularly, the goods and services applied for through the so-called Nice Classification system.

To contextualize the impact of COVID-19 from a meta perspective, the study additionally analyzed data in the form of

  • Death rates and government responses sourced from the University of Oxford,
  • Macroeconomic indicators, particularly private domestic demand, as well as
  • Business expectations examined through data sourced from the Business and Consumer survey of the European Commission.


Examining the overall trend in EUIPO filings, the study shows a steady growth rate averaging 6.1% per year between 2001 and 2022. In 2020, despite a global economic slowdown, the year concluded on a positive note with a notable increase in filings, defying the grim economic conditions.

While the increase in filings continued into 2021, a staggering 12.1% decrease in filings followed in 2022, being the most significant decline observed in the timeline.

The growth trajectory in 2020 was primarily driven by filings from Chinese organizations, while 2021 witnessed a surge in filings from EU Member States. However, 2022 saw a decline in filings from both the EU Member States and China.

Throughout each year of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain Nice classes demonstrated stronger performance compared to others. In 2020, the standout classes were those associated with medical and pharmaceutical products. In 2021, three service classes emerged on the list of best performing classes, including transport services ranking within the top five. Lastly, in 2022, only four high-performing classes were identified, all of which belonged to the services category.

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has unquestionably shaped EUTM filings, though its impact on the volume of filings wasn’t uniformly negative. Analysis indicates that the pandemic’s onset in 2020 and its persistence into 2021 had a noticeable, albeit temporary, effect on both the quantity and characteristics of EUTM filings.

What becomes apparent from the report is that the EUTM filings not only reflect prevailing economic circumstances but also serve as an indicator of business confidence and anticipation of future economic performance. Hence, trademark filings could potentially function as a sensitive gauge of economic sentiment, closely reflecting the outlook and strategic positioning of the business community. Remarkably, no correlation was found between the evolution of EUTM filings and simultaneous COVID-19 death rates or the government measures.

A report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (‘WIPO’) found a very similar pattern in the filings of international trademark applications during the period from 2020 to 2022. However, this report suggests that the 2022 decrease in international trademark filings during the Pandemic might also stem from changes to national filing regulations or simply reflects a return to normal filing levels after the surge in applications in 2020. [1]

You can access the full report of the EUIPO Observatory here.

[1] World Intellectual Property Indicators 2023