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New records for filings at European Patent Office

A record number of patents from European countries were filed at the European Patent Office last year, with more than 94,000 applications submitted.

The figures were released today (6 March) as part of the EPO’s annual report, and show that both European and international patent submissions are on the rise. The previous record for submissions from the EPO’s 38 member countries, most of which are in Europe, stood at 93,359 submissions in 2008.

“The growth of filings from European businesses is a clear indication that industry here has opted to innovate its way out of the economic crisis,” said EPO president Benoît Battistelli, who presented the results in Brussels.

The total number of patents filed at the EPO also hit a record high in 2012 of more than 257,000 filings, which represents a 5.2 per cent increase compared with 2011. Filings from European countries account for 36.5 per cent of all filings in 2012, down slightly from 37.5 per cent in 2011, as filings from third countries are rising even more.

The number of patents granted by the EPO hit a new record in 2012 of 65,687 approvals. Of these, 49.7 per cent went to European companies, down slightly from 52.5 per cent in 2011.

The greatest increases in numbers of filings have come from Asian countries, however. The number of patents filed by China went up by 11.1 per cent from 2011 to 2012, while South Korea’s applications went up by 9.3 per cent and Japan’s by 9.1 per cent.

The US is the country that files the most patents through the EPO, accounting for 24.6 per cent of the total. It is followed by Japan (20.1 per cent), Germany (13.3 per cent), China (7.3 per cent), and South Korea (5.6 per cent). After Germany, the European countries filing the highest number of patents in 2012 were France (4.7 per cent), Switzerland (3.2 per cent), and the UK (2.6 per cent).

South Korea’s Samsung was the single largest applicant, the first time an Asian company has topped the list. It ousted last year’s leader, Germany’s Siemens. There were four European companies among the ten most frequent applicants.

The field with the most applicants was medical technologies, which was dominated by US and European applications. Europe also contributed more than half of the applications in the areas of transport, measurement technology, engines, pumps, turbines and organic fine chemistry.