According to the EPO’s latest Annual Report, 2012 was another successful year, with an increase in European patent filings of 5.2% and an increase in European patents granted of 5.8% compared to 2011. This growth shows that Europe remains an important market and an important strategic region when protecting innovation.
The President of the EPO stated that “this new peak in European patent filings for the third year in a row shows that companies from Europe and around the world are continuing to seek protection for their inventions, and that Europe remains an attractive market for new technologies. This growth is part of a consistent, long-term trend, and is clear evidence of the confidence of industry in the value of European patents”.
Interestingly, the growth has largely been fuelled by filings from Asia and in particular from China, Korea and Japan. These three countries had individual growth rates of 11.1%, 9.3% and 9.1% respectively.
Additionally for the first time, the Applicant with the largest number of filings was an Asian company. The South Korean company Samsung filed 2,289 European patent applications in 2012, out of a total of 257,744. Another first was a Chinese company, ZTE, breaking into the top ten applicants, climbing from 43rd to 10th place.
Among the top ten applicants there were also four European companies: Siemens, BASF, Robert Bosch and Ericsson.
Within the individual technology sectors, European companies led the way in eight out of ten of the most active technical fields. In the transport sector, 60% of all applications came from European states. In measurement technology, engines, pumps, turbines (particularly in clean energy technologies) and organic fine chemistry, European applicants held 50% or more of all applications. The field with the most applications was, as in 2011, medical technology, and this sector was dominated by US applicants (42%), followed closely by Europe with 38%.
Other key statistics include the majority of filings (63.5%) originating from non- European countries and the continuation of the geographical trend seen in recent years with the US providing the most filings (24.6%), followed by Japan (20.1 %) and Germany (13.3%).