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Demand for European medical patents up amid overall decline

Image: NEC Corporation of America [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

Total applications fell 0.7 per cent, while the pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields surged

Applications for European patents in the areas of medicine and healthcare increased in 2020, even as the overall number of applications fell in the context of the hugely disruptive Covid-19 pandemic.

Total applications for European patents in 2020 fell 0.7 per cent on 2019, to just over 180,000, the European Patent Office revealed on 16 March.

Bucking the trend, applications within the field of medical technology were up 2.6 per cent. Medical technology was the top EPO category for absolute number of patent applications, with just over 14,000.

Among the 10 fields with the largest absolute numbers of applications, those in the fields of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology rose even more, by 10.2 per cent and 6.3 per cent, respectively.

By contrast, applications in the fields of transport and measurement (which includes sensor technology) fell 5.5 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively. In the transport sub-category of aviation and aerospace, applications fell by 24.7 per cent.

EPO president António Campinos said the 2020 data are “far from presenting a complete picture of the longer-term effects of the pandemic” but insisted “it is innovation, research and science that will lead to a healthier world, and to stronger and more sustainable economies”.

The top five countries for applications for European patents were the United States (24.5 per cent), Germany (14.3 per cent), Japan (12.1 per cent), China (7.5 per cent) and France (5.8 per cent).