Genomic-Related Trademark Filings Down in 2009

Applications to register genomic-related trademarks are down by one third on an annualized basis compared to 2008. The Genomics Law Report has found that since 2004, filings of application with the US PTO to register trademarks for goods and services related to genomics grew at an irregular but generally upwards rate, with 2007 showing the largest year-on-year increase and 2008 showing a slower but still rising number of filings. In the first half of 2009, the bottom fell out.

Academic researchers have begun to identify trademark filings as an important, if overlooked, indicator of innovation and industrial change (pdf). More casual observers have noted a correlation between overall economic activity and the number of trademark filings, with a decline in the overall number of filings at the US PTO seeming to lag somewhat behind the decline in the nation’s economic output. Given the recent economic downturn, it is therefore not surprising that overall filings of trademark applications at the US PTO are down as well in 2009. However, the seemingly steeper decline in the number of genomic-related filings in 2009 may indicate that, despite headline grabbing innovations and company launches such as last week’s launch of Pathway Genomics, overall commercial activity in genomics may be struggling, at least in the US.

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But we emphasize “may indicate” as these numbers are surprising in light of numerous other indicators of the continued commercialization of genomic and personalized medicine technologies. Other possible explanations include the incorporation of genomic technologies into existing products and services or a shift in nomenclature in favor of other terms. We invite you to contribute your own explanations in the comments. The Genomics Law Report will continue to report on these and other indicators of commercial activity in the field.