Originally posted 2012-02-21 17:57:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are trademark filings really an economic indicator?  This is from the Philadelphia Inquirer (via David Ardia, who cites Marty.)

Glenn Gundersen . . . [a] trademark and copyright lawyer at Dechert L.L.P. has been tracking trademark filings since the early 1990s. He says there’s a powerful correlation between such filings and the overall health of the economy. And using that metric, things aren’t as bad now as they might seem, he asserts.

When trademark filings are up, it’s a good sign that the economy is humming along. But if they go up too fast, you may have a bubble on your hands. Or if they start to tail off after years of modest growth, there might be a recession in the offing.

“We are seeing applications now in 2008 going down, but they are dropping less sharply and fiercely than they did in late 2001,” during the last recession, said Gundersen.

We have Glenn’s book on trademark searching, and he’s evidently pretty knowledgeable.  We would love to know more about that powerful correlation, though — for lots of reasons, one of which is that we are really suspicious of that kind of thing, i.e., claims that this or that correlates with the economy.  Maybe it’s the old mediocre economics major in us.

It’s worth considering the nature of the statistics Dechert keeps and what they use them for:

[W]hy would a lawyer bother to keep a statistical measure of trademark filings except as perhaps a catchy branding process for the law firm itself, and what does it have to do with a client’s legal issues?

The answer, Gundersen said, is that good statistical measures can reliably show what kinds of hurdles clients face. If there’s a rash of filings for, say, various eco-friendly products and services, finding a truly distinctive mark or branding strategy might be a long shot.

“It’s more of an indicator of how hard this effort is going to be,” Gundersen said.

For the moment, though, trends seem to be going in the opposite direction.

Wow.  That’s more statistics we’d love to see.  If they’re really all that, Gundersen’s thesis really raises some interesting and perhaps troubling questions about what proposed marks may merit trademark registration — and why.

By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.