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Indexing performance – explained by applications for U.S. trademark registrations

More than 248,000 new applications for trademarks were filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year, a 9 percent increase from 2003. (27 Natl. L.J. May 9, 2005 at S1).

Aside from the sheer intoxication of this metric, it more usefully serves as an index to the productivity of a trademark department. An index figure places other numbers in context; here, if every company is trying to protect more marks, a law department ought to report its own trademark activity in light of overall trends. A trademark group could crow about applying for 10 percent more marks in 2004 than in 2003, but compared to the index, the increase would be only one percent more than the national norm. Just as we index prices for the effects of inflation, we can index law department performance against a national norm or level.

[On a separate note, how accurate are trademark and patent filing figures as leading indicators of future performance of the economy?]

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