2012 - a Record Year for the European Patent Office: UK Patent Filings Continue to Grow Despite Economic Downturn

Mar 06, 2013, 05:00 ET from European Patent Office (EPO)

BRUSSELS, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

  • EPO announces record number of patent filings
  • European firms lead on eight of top ten technology fields
  • UK No. 4 in patent filings among European countries, No. 8 globally
  • 7.1% of all European patent filings coming from the UK
  • Rolls-Royce, Unilever, BAE Systems top three in the UK
  • Strongest growth in patent filings comes from Asia
  • Samsung takes No. 1 spot among applicants
  • Benoît Battistelli: "European companies are innovating their way out of the crisis"

Europe's innovative powers continue to grow: in 2012, the number of patent filings at the European Patent Office (EPO) originating from the 38 EPO member states reached a new peak, beating the previous record set in 2008.

In the face of European economic uncertainty, UK companies continue to invest in their R&D and innovation efforts. In 2012, the UK filed 6.695 patents with the EPO, a 3.3% growth on 2011 figures. The UK now ranks as Europe's fourth largest patent filer with a 7.1% share, and eighth globally at 2.6% of the total.

"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", EPO President Benoît Battistelli said today, as he presented the EPO's 2012 annual results in Brussels. "The patent filings of today are shaping the innovations of tomorrow. These results confirm that Europe is not only a prime location for R&D activities but also valued as a stronghold of innovation by both technology generating and exporting companies."

In total the EPO received 257.744 patent filings, 5.2% more than 2011 (244.934) and sets a new record for the EPO. Filings from Europe grew by 2.3% while the steepest growth rates came from China (+11.1%), Korea (9.3%) and Japan (+9.1%).

Rolls-Royce, Unilever, BAE Systems top three patent applicants in the UK  

European companies were leading applicants in eight of the ten most active technology fields. They were particularly dominant in transport (especially the automotive and aeronautic sectors), where over 60% of all applications came from EPO states.

The UK, too, demonstrates a diverse and evenly spread patent portfolio. This shows a positive trend in the face of current economic uncertainty; by ensuring an even spread in R&D, the economy is at lower risk of damage should any one sector decline.

Important areas of 2012 UK patenting activities included Engines, pumps and turbines and the field of Measurement. In both areas, the UK contributed 5% to patent applications at the EPO.

Rolls Royce was the UK's leading contributor in the field of Engines pumps and turbines and the greatest UK patent applicant overall with 262 applications in 2012. UK's second largest patent applicant was Unilever (209), followed by BAE Systems (114), and BT (84).

The UK was also an important originator of patent applications in Pharmaceuticals and Organic fine chemistry, with shares of 4% in each field. Top UK applicants in these fields were Glaxo and Unilever, respectively.

Four Europeans in top ten, but Samsung largest applicant

The dynamic evolution of the electronics sector is also reflected in the list of the largest applicants at the EPO. Among the top ten firms were four European companies, four companies from Asia and two from the US. For the first time, however, the ranking was topped by an Asian company, Samsung, followed by Siemens and BASF. Robert Bosch (ranked 6th)  and Ericsson (9th) are the two other European companies in the top ten. A Chinese company - ZTE - broke into the top ten for the first time, advancing from 43rd to 10th position.  

About the EPO

With almost 7 000 employees, the EPO is one of the largest European public service institutions. Its headquarters are in Munich and it also has offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna. The EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation between the European states in the field of patents. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain patent protection in the 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation.


Press contacts:

Oswald Schröder
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Rainer Osterwalder
Deputy spokesperson
European Patent Office
Tel: +49(0)89-2399-1820
Mobile: +49(0)163-8399527

Maria Diviney
Shepard Fox Communications
Telephone +44(0)20-3318-4491

SOURCE European Patent Office (EPO)