|An Unofficial Economic Indicator|
|Subject||Measuring Economic Activity|
|Topic||Productivity and Growth|
Trade Mark Applications, Economic Growth, and Recovery
More prosperity is just around the corner, according to March, 2004 postings of the index of economic indicators. The index is a tool used by policy makers to forecast the future direction of real GDP. It is made up of ten important variables in the economy, including average workweek, initial claims for unemployment insurance, new orders of consumer goods, stock market prices, and building permits for houses. These and several other variables have been proved effective in providing advanced forecasts of economic activity.
While the index in general has suggested economic growth and a climb out of the recession, another (unofficial) indicator, suggests that the recovery may not be as quick as some expected. Business firms, marketers, and advertisers file trademark applications to tie their products to brand names or images that represent "potential new businesses, product launches, line extensions or ad campaigns," according to intellectual-property law firm Dechert. Dechert has been tracking trends in trademark applications for 12 years, hoping to get another indication of the direction of the economy.
The firm believes the applications can indicate of how businesses feel about economic prospects. "Our reports have shown how the flow of applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can reflect either economic optimism or pessimism," according to Dechert partner Glenn A. Gundersen, who originated the trademark survey from the firm's Philadelphia office. He continues, saying, "Through good times and bad, trademark filings have echoed the larger economy in uncanny ways."
The current report found that in 2003 some companies were remaining pessimistic. Although the number of applications actually rose by 5 percent, industries like high technology, computer hardware and software, the Internet, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and financial services were down and these are all industries cited by analysts as the future site of American business and job creation.
Gundersen explained the importance of this trend in an interview. "When
companies file applications, about half are filed for products not on
the market or businesses or services not yet launched. So we see in the
applications filed now what plans people are making for products or services
in the coming months or years." Translated to the current situation,
the recovery cited by some may not come as quickly as expected. Trademarks
represent a firm's capital assets--property that can be owned to enhance
a product or service. A fall in such intellectual property filings indicates
less investment spending than would have taken place had the trademarks
been requested and received.
(Updated May, 2004)
|Source||Sabra Chartrand, "Patents as an Economic Indicator", New York Times Online, April 5, 2004.|
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