Massive Increase of Trademark Applications Filed in relation to Personal Hygiene for Prevention of I

Massive Increase of Trademark Applications Filed in relation to Personal Hygiene for Prevention of Infectious Diseases

- Filings of trademark applications related to face masks increased 2.6 times in February and March 2020 compared to the same period the previous year -



The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) disclosed that filings for trademarks of which designated goods are related to personal hygiene, for example, face masks, hand sanitizers and sanitizers, etc., increased 62% during the most recent 5 years, from 4,143 cases in 2014 to 6,710 cases in 2019. This number has been continuously increasing at an average of 10% per year.

* (2014) 4,143 cases → (2015) 4,520 cases → (2016) 4,455 cases → (2017) 5,334 cases → (2018) 5,950 cases → (2019) 6,710 cases


<Trend of trademark application filings in relation to personal hygiene>

Such growth trend has been noticeable this February: The number of filings dropped to 506 cases this past January, which is 16.2% less than the 604 cases in January 2019. In contrast, after the first confirmed domestic patient was diagnosed as infected by COVID-19 on January 20, 2020 and with the epidemic spreading domestically this past February, the number of related filings was 950 cases, which is 2 times higher than during the same period last year (473 cases).


Such growing trend continued in March and the number reached 1,418, which is 792 more than during the previous March. This trend is projected to continue for a while.

*(2019.1) 604 cases → (2019.2) 473 cases → (2019.3) 626 cases (2020.1) 506 cases → (2020.2) 950 cases → (2020.3) 1418 cases


Especially, trademark applications of which designated goods are face masks among applications related to personal hygiene increased approximately 2.6 times, from 304 cases in February and March 2019 to 789 cases in February and March 2020, and this is interpreted as reflecting a market in which demand for face masks increased markedly.

* Face masks: (2019. 2∼3) 304 cases (February 112 cases, March 192 cases) → (2020. 2∼3) 789 cases (February 251 cases, March 538 cases)


<Filing trend for trademark applications related to face masks from January to March (2019 and 2020)>


It seems that the increase in trademark applications being filed in relation to personal hygiene is related to results of industrialization which have become social problems such as the increase in municipal waste, yellow dust and fine dust, etc.

The very first trademark application of which designated goods were yellow dust masks was filed on October 2004, which was shortly after harm from yellow dust started hitting its stride. Also, the very first trademark application of which designated goods were fine dust masks was filed on June 2016, and this period is considered as being the same as when the increase in fine dust became a serious social problem.


Along with urbanization and globalization, environmental conditions have made it easier for infectious diseases such as SARS, MERS, H1N1 and COVID-19, etc. to spread, and this matter is somehow in correlation with the filing of trademark applications related to personal hygiene. In 2003 when SARS was an epidemic, such filings of applications increased 105%, which was 2 times year-on-year; in 2010 when H1N1 was spreading, these filings increased 12% year-on-year; and in 2015 in which MERS was an epidemic, the number increased 9.1% compared to the previous year.

* 2002: 671 cases, 2003: 1,374 cases, 2009: 6,927 cases, 2010: 7,757 cases, 2014: 4,143 cases, 2015: 4,520 cases


By looking at the filing trend for the 26,969 cases of trademark applications related to personal hygiene which were filed in the most recent 5 years (2015~2019) by economic unit, applications filed by corporations took 61% with 16,577 cases and individual filings took 28% with 7,602 cases.


Among filings by corporations, large companies filed 5,158 cases, medium-sized companies filed 2,408 cases and small and medium-sized companies filed 9,011, so filings by small and medium-sized companies took more than half of the total.


<Share by applicant type>

The general manager of the Trademark and Design Examination Bureau of KIPO stated, “Recently, with people’s interest in personal health and safety issues increasing due to yellow dust and fine dust, etc., and the periodic outbreaks of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, etc., it seems that trademark applications related to personal hygiene (face masks and sanitizers, etc.) will continue to be filed”.


[Source: KIPO]


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