BRUSSELS, Belgium – Patent filings at the European Patent Office (EPO) hit a new record in 2013, with applications coming from the US growing by 2.8% (2012: +5.1%). Last year US companies deposited 64,967, or 24.5%, of all European patent filings (2012: 63,198), which confirms the US as the No. 1 among all countries at the EPO, ahead of Japan (52,437; +1.2%) and Germany (32,000; -5.4%). It is the highest number of patents ever filed by US companies within one year at the EPO.
In the last decade, European patent filings originating in the US grew an average 2.2% per year. Since 2004 the number of US patent filings in Europe has risen by more than 20%.
“Demand for patent protection in Europe is up for the fourth consecutive year,” said EPO President Benoit Battistelli. “This growth is also proof that companies from around the world continue to see Europe more and more as a premier hub of innovation. The strong rankings of patent-intense technologies once more underline the central role of these industry sectors for employment and growth in the EU economy, and elsewhere.”
The EPO also granted 66,700 European patents last year, an increase of 1.6% over 2012 and the highest number ever. In total, 14,880 European patents were granted to US companies, 1.2% more than in 2012.
US companies held particularly strong positions in four of the ten most important technology fields. In medical technology, their share was 39% of all patent filings. Computer technology/IT was dominated by US companies with a share of 34%, in pharmaceuticals the share was 33%, and in biotechnology 29%.
General Electric was the biggest US filer and the No. 8 in the top 25 ranking of patent applicants at the EPO, followed by Qualcomm as No. 9. Among the leading US companies in patent filings at the EPO were Johnson&Johnson, Covidien and Medtronic in healthcare, Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel and Apple in computers, Boeing and United Technologies in transport, Honeywell in measurement, Merck in organic chemistry, Allergan in pharmaceuticals and Dupont in biotechnology.
In total the EPO received 265,000 patent filings last year, 2.8% more than in 2012 and a new all-time high. The US and Japan again had the bulk of filings at the EPO while China (+16%) and South Korea (+14%) were the main drivers of growth.
Samsung in the lead
The list of top filing companies at the EPO was again headed by Samsung (2,833 applications), followed by Siemens (1,974), Philips (1,839), LG (1 648), BASF (1,577), Bosch (1,574), Mitsubishi (1,327), General Electric (1,257), Qualcomm (1,204).