The European Patent Office (EPO) recently announced that it received 258,000 patent applications in 2012, which represents a 5.7 percent increase over 2011 figures and sets a new record. The EPO also saw a 5.8 percent increase in the number of patents published.
“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,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. “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.”
Below are several trends noted in the EPO’s press statement:
- With 63% of the filings, a clear majority came from non-European countries (2011: 62%), while the share from the 38 EPO member states was 37% (2011: 38%).
- The top five positions in 2012 are once again held by the US (24.7%), Japan (19.9%), Germany (13.4%), China (7.3%) and Korea (5.5%).
- Globally, Asian firms continued to fuel the growth in filings: more than half of the increase comes from Japan, China and Korea combined.
- US companies reached a new record with 63, 777 filings, reinforcing their number one position.
- For Europe, following Germany as number three in the top five, the ranking is stable, with France in sixth place (4.6%), ahead of Switzerland (seventh: 3.2%), the UK (eighth: 2.6%) and the Netherlands (ninth: 2.5%). In absolute numbers, all of these EPO countries saw an increase in filings.
As this report highlights, U.S. companies are increasingly seeking to protect their patent rights overseas.