European Patent Office sees growth in applications, with UK submitting ninth-most

4 April 2023 | Muriel Cozier

BASF submitted 1,401 patent applications in 2022, making it one of the top ten applicants

The European Patent Office (EPO) has said that a 2.5% increase in patent applications during 2022, compared with 2021, ‘underlines that innovation remained robust last year despite economic uncertainties around the globe’.

According to the EPO Patent Index 2022, 193,460 patent applications were received during 2022.This follows on from a 4.7% increase in applications during 2021 compared with 2020 – a year in which patent filings dipped by 0.6%.

The data indicates that of the top 10 technical fields, the most patent applications were in digital communications. Pharmaceuticals came in at number five with applications rising 1%, biotechnology had an increase of 11% and was placed at number eight, while organic fine chemistry made tenth place, recording a decrease of 0.4% in patent applications.

‘The big increase in patent applications in digital technologies is permeating many other areas such as health care, transport and agriculture,’ the EPO said.

Patent filings were led by the US, Germany and Japan, taking the top three spots of the 50 countries listed for patent applications. While China was placed fourth, the growth in applications in 2022 was mainly fueled by filings from China, which recorded a rise of 15.1% compared with the previous year.

The EPO noted that patent filings from China had more than doubled in the past five years. Filings from the US grew by 2.9% during 2022. The UK was placed ninth in the EPO patent applications; the number of applications submitted increasing 1.9% compared with 2021.

The top ten companies filing patents were dominated by communications, technology and electronics-focused businesses, with Huawei (4,505 patents), LG (3,510 patents) and Qualcomm (2,966 patents) taking the top three sports. BASF made it into the top ten at number eight, moving from 11th position in 2021. The company submitted 1,401 patent applications in 2022.

‘There has been solid sustained growth in filings related to clean technologies and other means that create, transfer and store electricity,’ said EPO President, António Campinos. ‘It’s this ongoing boom that is navigating the energy transition. Innovators are also working towards a smarter future as the fourth industrial revolution takes hold of our lives, sectors and industries - and spreads far into other areas from transport to healthcare. We can see this in the relentless growth in patent applications in digital technologies and semiconductors.’

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