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Welcome to the August 2018 edition of the eTrade for all newsletter!

Busy summer for our partners! There have been so many highlights over July and August, with the preparation of the second ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Air Cargo Forum, of which Cortney Robinson will tell us about in an exclusive interview, to the release of the new WIPO Innovation Index 2018,  to the completion of the new UNCTAD eReadiness Assessments for the Solomon IslandsSenegal, and Vanuatu, to the launch of the new High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation by the UN SG and the G20 Digital Economy Ministerial Declaration. We also celebrated our second birthday of the eTrade for all initiative and we wanted to show you how your efforts are being rewarded.

All this and much more in the summer edition of our newsletter, available online!

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WIPO

International patent applications via WIPO in 2020 continued to grow amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s vast human and economic toll, with leading users China and the U.S. each marking annual growth in filings.

International patent applications filed via WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which is one of the widely used metrics for measuring innovative activity, grew by 4% in 2020 to reach 275,900 applications – the highest number ever, despite an estimated drop in global GDP of 3.5%.

China (68,720 applications, +16.1% year-on-year growth) remained the largest user of WIPO’s PCT System, followed by the U.S. (59,230 applications, +3%), Japan (50,520 applications, -4.1%), the Republic of Korea (20,060 applications, +5.2%) and Germany (18,643 applications, -3.7%)
(Annex 1 PDF, Annex 1).

Beyond the top 10, other countries that saw strong growth include Saudi Arabia (956 applications, +73.2%), Malaysia (255 applications, +26.2%), Chile (262 applications, +17.0%), Singapore (1,278 applications, +14.9%) and Brazil (697 applications, +8.4%). Longer term trends point to the globalization of innovation, with Asia accounting for 53.7% percent of all PCT filing activity, versus 35.7% 10 years ago.

Use of the international trademark system dipped, but only slightly. This was expected given that trademarks tend to represent the introduction of new goods and services – both of which slowed as a result of the global pandemic. International trademark applications via WIPO’s Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks decreased by 0.6% to 63,800 in 2020 – the first decline since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

(PHOTO: WIPO/BERROD)

Press conference: Video on YouTube

The economic fallout from the pandemic hit demand for the protection of industrial designs via the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. Demand fell by 15% in 2020 to 18,580 designs – the first decline since 2006.

Worldwide demand for IP rights, which help innovators and enterprises take their ideas to the market, has historically and broadly tracked global economic performance. However, growth over the past decade in the use of WIPO’s global IP services, most notably the PCT, has outperformed global GDP growth.

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Interactive charts

Charts with the latest key international IP data.

Access our interactive IP charts for 2020

International patent system (Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT)

Top PCT filers

For the fourth consecutive year, China-based telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, with 5,464 published PCT applications, was the top filer in 2020. It was followed by Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea (3,093), Mitsubishi Electric Corp. of Japan (2,810), LG Electronics Inc. of the Republic of Korea (2,759) and Qualcomm Inc. of the U.S. (2,173) (Annex 2 PDF, Annex 2). Among the top 10 filers, LG Electronics reported the fastest growth (+67.6%) in the number of published applications in 2020 and as a result it moved up from 10th position in 2019 to 4th position in 2020.

The University of California with 559 published applications continues to head the list of top applicants among educational institutions in 2020. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (269) ranked second, followed by Shenzhen University (252), Tsinghua University (231) and Zhejiang University (209) (Annex 3 PDF, Annex 3). The top 10-university list comprises five universities from China, four from the U.S., and one from Japan.

Top technologies

Among fields of technology, computer technology (9.2% of total) accounted for the largest share of published PCT applications, followed by digital communication (8.3%), medical technology (6.6%), electrical machinery (6.6%), and measurement (4.8%) (Annex 4 PDF, Annex 4).

Six of the top 10 technologies recorded double-digit growth in 2020, with audio-visual technology reporting the fastest rate of growth – +29.5%, compared to 8.7% the previous year –  followed by digital communication (+15.8%), computer technology (+13.2%), measurement (+10.9%) semiconductors (+10.1%) and pharmaceuticals (+10%).

International trademark system (Madrid System)

U.S.-based applicants (10,005) filed the largest number of international trademark applications using WIPO’s Madrid System in 2020, followed by those located in Germany (7,334), China (7,075), France (3,716) and the U.K. (3,679) (Annex 5 PDF, Annex 5).

Among the top ten origins, China (+16.4%) is the only country to record double-digit growth in 2020. The U.K. (+5.1%) and Italy (+3.6%) also reported notable growth.  Outside the top ten origins, the Republic of Korea (+13.4%), Canada (+94.4%), and Denmark (11.5%) saw the strongest growth. In contrast, France (-16.3%) and Turkey (-15.4%) saw sharp declines.

Top Madrid filers

Novartis AG of Switzerland with 233 Madrid applications heads the list of top filers in 2020. WIPO received 104 more applications from Novartis in 2020 than in 2019, elevating it from 3rd position to the top spot. Novartis AG was followed by Huawei Technologies of China (197), Shiseido Company of Japan (130), ADP Gauselmann of Germany (123) and L’Oréal of France (115). L’Oréal – the top filer in 2019 – moved down to 5th position as it filed 78 fewer applications in 2020 (Annex 6 PDF, Annex 6).

Top classes

The most-specified class in international applications received by WIPO was Class 9 (computer hardware and software and other electrical or electronic apparatus, etc.) that accounted for 10.6% of the 2020 total. It was followed by Class 35 (services for business; 8.1%) and Class 42 (technological services; 7.1%). Among the top 10 classes, Class 10 (surgical, medical, dental and veterinary apparatus, etc.; +21.1%) and Class 5 (pharmaceuticals and other preparations for medical purposes; +9.2%) saw the fastest growth.

International design system (Hague System)

Despite a substantial decrease, Germany remained the largest user of the international design system, with 3,666 designs (Annex 7 PDF, Annex 7). The U.S. (2,211 designs) moved up from 6th position to become the second largest user of the Hague System in 2020. Switzerland (1,944 designs), the Republic of Korea (1,669) and Italy (1,231) are ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Among the top ten origins, the U.S. (+62.7%), Turkey (+34.7%) and China (+22.7%) are the only three countries to record growth in 2020.

Top Hague filers

For the fourth consecutive year, Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea with 859 designs in published applications headed the list of top filers, followed by Procter & Gamble of the U.S. (623), Fonkel Meubelmarketing of the Netherlands (569), Volkswagen of Germany (524) and Beijing Xiaomi Mobile Software of China (516). For the first time a company from China is among the top five applicants. Lampenwelt GMBH of Germany –ranked tenth with 276 designs – is a new user of the Hague System (Annex 8 PDF, Annex 8).

Top fields

Designs related to means of transport (10.1%) accounted for the largest share of total designs in 2020; followed by recording and communication equipment (8.8%); packages and containers (8.4%); furnishing (7.4%); and lighting apparatus (6.9%). Among the top 10 classes, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products (+42.6%) saw sizeable growth in 2020.

Domain name disputes

Trademark owners in 2020 filed a record 4,204 cases under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) with WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center, moving past the 50,000 mark since the start of this WIPO service (Annex 9 PDF, Annex 9).  It was also a record year for WIPO Mediation and Arbitration cases involving patents, trademarks, digital copyright, and other types of disputes involving technology.

With a greater number of people spending more time online during the COVID-19 pandemic, trademark owners are taking up this WIPO service not only to reinforce their online presence, but also to offer authentic content and trusted sales outlets to Internet users across varied business areas (Annex 10 PDF, Annex 10). Representing 75% of WIPO’s generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) caseload, .COM demonstrated its continuing primacy.

WIPO UDRP cases in 2020 involved parties from 127 countries, up from 122 in 2019. The U.S., with 1,359 cases filed, France (786), the U.K. (411), Switzerland (256) and Germany (235) were the top five filing countries  (Annex 11 PDF, Annex 11).

WIPO also offers dispute resolution services for over 75 country code Top-Level Domains, such as .CN (China), .EU (European Union) and .MX (Mexico).

Outside the area of domain name disputes, the WIPO Center in 2020 received 77 mediation and arbitration cases in different areas of IP, up 24% from the previous year’s caseload (Annex 12 PDF, Annex 12).  These WIPO procedures allow parties from around the world to resolve their cases without having to go to court.  Patent-related disputes remained the most common in WIPO’s caseload, followed by trademark, information and communications technology (ICT), and copyright disputes
(Annex 13 PDF, Annex 13).

International patent applications via WIPO in 2020 continued to grow amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s vast human and economic toll, with leading users China and the U.S. each marking annual growth in filings.

International patent applications...

WCO

With the growing global interest in making available tariff-related information via web-based tools, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) decided to embark on a project to implement an electronic tariff platform in the country. On 24 February 2020, a kick-off meeting to launch the project was held in Monrovia, Liberia, with the virtual attendance by representatives of the WCO, the ECOWAS Secretariat and technical experts specialized in the development of online platforms.

The project is implemented in the framework of the EU-WCO HS-Africa Programme, funded by the European Union. The main objective of the project is to develop an electronic platform where all information related to applied rates of duties and taxes imposed in connection with trade transactions will be available in an easily accessible manner. This effort will contribute not only to the implementation of the HS, but will also support the ongoing work undertaken in Liberia to meet the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement standards.

The ECOWAS Secretariat representative Mr. Felix Kwame Kwakye expressed his great satisfaction with regard to the launch of the project, highlighting its importance for the ECOWAS region as an example of digital transformation of Customs work. He emphasized that the interactive nature of the electronic platform, its comprehensive coverage and its integration with the existing IT systems used by the LRA would make information available to all interested parties in a convenient and user-friendly format.

A multi-disciplinary team has been assigned at the LRA to coordinate this project and will ensure close collaboration with the WCO and the ECOWAS. The new electronic platform is expected to go live in summer 2021. The EU-WCO HS-Africa Programme reiterated its pledge to support the LRA throughout the entire process of implementation of this important endeavor.

For more details, please contact capacity.building@wcoomd.org.

With the growing global interest in making available tariff-related information via web-based tools, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) decided to embark on a project to implement an electronic tariff platform in the country. On 24...

Commonwealth

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are gaining increased attention around the world.  Although once viewed with much scepticism, more central banks are exploring its use, with some analysts dubbing 2020 “the Year of CBDCs” due to the striking way the currency entered the international financial policy conversation.

As a blockchain-based, digital form of a country’s fiat currency, CBDCs lie in the “sweet spot” of the money flower, having the accessibility of cash, the digital ease of mobile money, the security of cryptocurrency, and the familiarity of being issued by the central bank.

Graph 1: The Money Flower (Bech and Garratt, 2017)

Small states lead the way

However, while much attention has been paid to the potential CBDC activity in large developed economies – like China and the US — small states are making actual breakthroughs. The Bahamas, a small chain of islands with under 400,000 people, became the first country in the world to officially launch a central bank digital currency, with the nationwide rollout of the Sand Dollar last October.  Mauritius, the Marshall Islands, Curacao and members of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines) have also completed small-scale pilots and are looking to move on to national rollouts.

At first glance, it is surprising that these countries are at the forefront of this innovation.  Many small states are heavily cash dependent and their domestic financial sectors are usually under-developed.  They also tend to be very financially conservative and cautious.

On closer analysis however, there seems to be two key reasons why small states are leading the way. Firstly, they have strong motivations – CBDCs (more so than other technologies) can help to address their financial development issues.  Financial exclusion remains a challenge in many small states, particularly those with populations spread unevenly across many islands.  More remote places do not have easy access to banks and, should a natural disaster strike, even those islands with bank branches may find themselves excluded. When Hurricane Dorian hit The Bahamas in September 2019, the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco were without banking services for weeks.

Beyond these geographic issues, small states have a relatively small financial sector with only a few financial institutions.  These size-related challenges tend to result in high interest rates and expensive charges for ATM use and other basic transactions, further limiting financial inclusion.  Financial innovations (like mobile money and CBDCs) are often regarded as viable solutions to improve financial inclusion and address de-risking.

The second – and arguably more important – reason small states are the drivers in the adoption of CBDCs, is that their risks are lower.  Because of their island nature, these countries are able to conduct controlled self-contained pilots to safely test new ideas.  Many analysts (BIS, 2020; Mancini-Griffoli et al, 2018) have expressed concern that CBDCs might undermine financial stability by disintermediating or crowding out traditional banks.  The Bahamas tested the Sand Dollar for several months on two different islands before rolling it out nationally – and the disintermediation risk did not materialise[1].  Similarly, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank is testing its digital currency DCash in four of the seven countries in its jurisdiction.

Furthermore, the unique characteristics of many small states make it unlikely that the private sector will offer FinTech solutions on their own.  On balance, there is little incentive for traditional banks in small states to increase financial inclusion, particularly for residents on sparsely populated islands.  Regulator-driven CBDCs are likely the only way for small states to capitalise on the benefits of FinTech.

Small States with Big Lessons

This perspective of small states as key players in CBDCs highlights some broader lessons worth noting.  The first is that context matters in small states.  Perhaps showing how the small state context has allowed CBDCs to grow and develop can shed some light on the importance of understanding this context in other areas as well.  Often saddled with blacklisting, small states have long argued that the international financial regulatory architecture does not understand nor take into account the many important nuances of the small state context.

The second takeaway is that context matters for FinTech adoption. FinTech solutions work best when they are tailored to address country-specific needs.  For example, MPesa has been transformative in Kenya, but has struggled to replicate that same success in neighbouring countries with different contexts.  Similarly, while CBDCs are growing in small states, other countries with different circumstances may not experience the same benefits from the innovation. FinTech is more effective when it is viewed as a solution to a problem, rather than the adoption of a new shiny technology.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s forthcoming Commonwealth FinTech Report seeks to understand the FinTech landscape across our membership, identify trends, and draw out lessons like these that can be shared more widely.

[1] In part due to the parameters of the scheme, including a $500 cap on e-wallets held by individuals.

References

  • Bech, M. L., & Garratt, R. (2017). Central bank cryptocurrencies. BIS Quarterly Review September.
  • BIS (Bank for Intermediate Settlements) (2020). Central bank digital currencies: foundational principles and core features.
  • Mancini-Griffoli, T., Peria, M. S. M., Agur, I., Ari, A., Kiff, J., Popescu, A., & Rochon, C. (2018). Casting light on central bank digital currency. IMF Staff Discussion Notes18(08).

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are gaining increased attention around the world.  Although once viewed with much scepticism, more central banks are exploring its use, with some analysts dubbing 2020 “the Year of CBDCs” due...

ILO

Digital labour platforms are now a vital part of contemporary life—they allow us to arrange a ride, order food and access a host of other services online. They accomplish this by connecting clients or customers with workers who undertake these tasks or “gigs”. The past decade has seen the global rise of “gig workers” or “platform workers”, with platforms like Uber, Gojek, Deliveroo, Rappi, Upwork and Topcoder.

 

Digital labour platforms have created unprecedented opportunities for workers, businesses and society by unleashing innovation on a massive global scale. Yet at the same time, they pose serious threats to decent work and fair competition.

Explore this InfoStory to find out how digital labour platforms impact workers and enterprises around the world and why there is an urgent need for regulatory coherence for the platform economy.

Platform workers’ stories

Listen to Sergio and Mercy sharing their experience and describing their challenges

Digital labour platforms are now a vital part of contemporary life—they allow us to arrange a ride, order food and access a host of other services online. They accomplish this by connecting clients or customers...

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