Around 166,000 patent applications were submitted to the European Patent Office in 2017, more than ever before in the history of the Office. According to its recently released annual report of 2017, the increase over the previous year is 3.9% for patent applications and 10.1% for publications of issued patents.
The following developments can be read from the annual report:
- The demand for European patents is increasing all over the world. The five most active countries of origin were the US, Germany, Japan, France and China. Applications from the United States increased by 5.8%, which is especially interesting since they had dropped in 2016 due to the changes in US patent law introduced in 2013.
- For some countries, applications focused on specific areas, e.g. in the case of China and South Korea, the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. By contrast, in most European countries, as well as in the US and Japan, applications are more broadly distributed among different sectors.
- The three technology segments with the largest number of patent applications remain identical in comparison to the previous year: medical technology, digital communication and computer technology. The strongest growth in the ten most active technology fields was in biotechnology with 14.5%, followed by pharmaceuticals with 8.1% and measurement with 6.6%.
- The company with the most patent applications in 2017 is Huawei from China, followed by Siemens, LG, Samsung and Qualcomm. Large companies account for 69% of patent applicants, with the remaining 31% coming from small and medium-sized enterprises, individual inventors, universities and public research organizations.
Overall, it can be said that there is still only one direction for the number of patent applications: up. For all actors in the patent sector, such as companies and patent law firms, this means that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of all relevant new applications and their procedural statuses.