Great News from the European Patent Office (EPO): As a result of productivity and efficiency measures the number of granted European Patents rose by 40% to 96,000 in total. Get an overview of the newest EPO Annual Report in our article.
Due to effective measures to improve its productivity, the European Patent Office (EPO) published 96,000 granted patents in 2016, which is 40% more than in 2015 and a new high mark in its history.
The EPO’s 2016 Annual Report, published today, also shows the Office recorded an unprecedented level of patent filings in 2016, reaching over 296 000, a rise of 6.2% (2015: 279 000). The figure is an indicator of the growing demand for patent protection from businesses worldwide. In addition, the EPO received nearly 160 000 European patent applications (files for which applicants have actually requested a European patent at the EPO), on a par with the record number reached the year before.
The 2016 report confirms the positive trend in patent applications over the past five years, while the levelling off in 2016 corrects an exceptional spike in applications from the US in 2015.
Applications from EPO states at high level
Innovating businesses from all over the world continued to file large numbers of European patent applications, with nearly half of all of them originating from the EPO’s 38 member states. There was strong growth again in applications from China (+24.8%) and from the Republic of Korea (+6.5%), with Chinese applications exceeding ones from the Republic of Korea for the first time.
Applications from Japan declined slightly (-1.9%), continuing the trend of the past few years. Patent applications from the US had enjoyed an unusual surge in 2015 (at 42 597) due to the one-off effect of a change in US patent law (America Invents Act of 2013), but have now normalised (back down -5.9%) at 40 076, which is still 9.3% up on 2014 (at 36 668).
The five countries of origin with the largest numbers of European patent applications were the US, Germany, Japan, France and Switzerland.
European Patents are in demand as never before
“The 2016 results confirm Europe’s attractiveness as a leading global marketplace for innovation,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. “In a rapidly changing political and economic landscape, companies from around the world have kept up their demand for patent protection in Europe.
While we see impressive growth in applications from Asia, European companies maintain their role as drivers of innovation and economic growth in their home market, and are proving their resilience in the face of unsettled economic conditions.”
He added: “We have responded to this sustained strong demand for patents by significantly increasing our performance yet again, whilst maintaining best quality standards. These results clearly show that the reforms introduced at the EPO in the past five years are effective and reflect the needs of the European economy.”
Despite high patent application volumes originating from other economic regions, the balance in the flow of applications between Asian countries, Europe and the US remains positive for European companies, which is further proof of Europe’s innovative potential.
EPO Annual Report 2016: Further information
Other countries including Austria (+2.6%), Spain (+2.6%), Switzerland (+2.5%) and the UK (+1.8%) also showed increases. Applications from Germany, Europe’s biggest filer, also grew modestly (+1.1%), reversing the downward trend of the previous three years.
Patent applications from France (-2.5%) dropped, after increases in 2015. The Netherlands (-3.6%) also declined, following growth of 4% the previous year.
Among countries with lower application volumes, there was a strong increase from Turkey (+11.6%), Portugal (+8.5%) and Ireland (+8.1%). The EPO received fewer patent applications from the Nordic states, namely Iceland (-17.8%), Finland (-8.8%), Sweden (-7.4%), and Denmark (-2.8%), with the exception of Norway, which showed growth of 1.8%.
The result for smaller entities climbed 3 points and means they represent a significant proportion of applicants at the EPO. European SMEs are well represented among them: two thirds (67%) of the applications filed by SMEs and individual inventors originate from the EPO’s 38 member states.
As a consequence of these improvements, the EPO was also able to publish almost 96 000 granted patents, an increase of 40% over 2015, and the highest number in the history of the EPO. The increase was also partly due to new working practices of expediting grants on applications which are already in good order at an early stage.
To ensure that the high quality of the EPO’s work also rises with the greater efficiency of the grant procedure, the EPO routinely collects user feedback. The results demonstrate that there is a high level of satisfaction with EPO products and services.
- Download the complete EPO Annual Report 2016 here
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Text/Picture/Video: European Patent Office Press Release