Apple, though, wasn't the biggest user of industrial design rights in 2011, WIPO data reveals. It ranked sixth for industrial design registrations in the U.S. in 2011, with 122 registrations, behind Samsung (328), LG (236) and Microsoft (182). For seven other major registries, WIPO counted industrial design applications, not registrations, and in those countries Apple did not make the top 10 at all.
In China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, firms in the electronics and ICT industries ranked among the most intensive users of industrial design rights, according to WIPO. "In the case of China, for the most part foreign firms occupied the top 10 ranks. Interestingly, the only entity of Chinese origin in these rankings is a university," it added.
Most design right applications were filed in China, where Panasonic ranked first with 3,634 design right applications filed, followed by Samsung with 3,335 and LG with 2,844 applications.
Design rights today are a substantial share of firms' investments in intangible assets and innovation. However, further research is needed to reveal how the legal and creative aspects of industrial design activity relate to one another, WIPO said.
Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to email@example.com