European Patent Office Reports US Companies Boost Share of European Patent Applications in 2015 to 27%

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Patent applications from US companies increased by 16% with largest number coming from medical and computer technology fields

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The remarkable growth in patent applications at the EPO proves that Europe continues to be a hub for innovators from all over the world, and an attractive technology market.

The European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that patent applications from the US grew by 16.4% in 2015, the highest increase in five years and the second highest in the last 10 years. Last year, US companies filed 42 700 patent applications with the EPO, a new record high (2014: 36 700). The US share of all European patent filings grew to 27%, from 24% in the previous year. (Fig.: Growth of US patent applications at the EPO)


  • US filed most applications at the European Patent Office in 2015
  • 16% increase in applications to US record high in Europe
  • United Technologies biggest patent applicant from the US
  • US companies leading in Medical Technology and Computers

The overall number of European patent applications at the EPO in 2015 rose to 160 000 (2014: 153 000, +4.8%). (Fig: Growth of patent applications). Apart from the US, the increase was fuelled mainly by Chinese companies (+22.2%), whilst the volume of applications originating from the 38 EPO member states remained almost stable last year (+0.7%). Among the top 5 countries of origin were also Germany, Japan, France, and the Netherlands. (Fig.: Origin of applications)

“The remarkable growth in patent applications at the EPO proves that Europe continues to be a hub for innovators from all over the world, and an attractive technology market,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. “It reflects the interest of businesses and inventors in opting for high-quality patent protection for the European market.” He added: “Despite the impressive growth in applications from outside Europe, the balance of the number of patent applications made by European companies in other regions remains clearly positive, which underlines the innovative potential of the European economy.” (Fig.: Flow of patent applications between EPO and IP5 countries)

US companies dominate Medical technology and Computer technology

US companies further strengthened their leading position in two of the ten most important technologies. US firms now account for 41% of all patent applications in both Medical technology (up from 39% in the previous year; Germany in second place with a 12% share) and Computer technology (up from 38%; Japan in second place with a 11% share). US companies were also the biggest patent applicants in Digital communications, accounting for 27% (up from 26%) of all patent applications, but China is quickly closing the gap with a 19% share in 2015, up from 15% in the previous year.

United Technologies overtake Qualcomm as biggest US patent applicant

With 1 869 applications, United Technologies was the most active US patent applicant at the EPO. By more than doubling the number of applications (up from 810 in the previous year) United Technologies became the new No. 1 from the US (up from No. 3 in the previous year), followed by Qualcomm (1 705), General Electric (1 316), Intel (1 039) and Microsoft (921). (Fig.: Top US applicants at the EPO in 2015)

Engines, Pumps, Turbines technology field with strongest growth from US

Within the 10 most important technology fields, applications from the US grew strongest in Engines, Pumps, Turbines (+100%), where many patent applications in clean energies are filed, followed by Basic material chemistry (+30%) and Pharmaceuticals (+25%).

Medical technology, Digital communications and Computers are top fields

Overall, Medical technology was once again the field with the highest number of patent applications at the EPO in 2015, growing by a further 11% over 2014. Other areas which showed significant growth were “Engines, pumps and turbines” (+18%), “Pharmaceuticals” (+10%), “Measurement” (+8%) and “Computers” (+8%). (Fig.: Technical fields with most applications).

Philips largest patent applicant

Dutch corporation Philips moved into the top spot on the list of companies with the most patent applications at the EPO in 2015. Samsung ranked second, followed by LG, Huawei, Siemens, United Technologies, Qualcomm, Bosch, BASF, and General Electric, meaning that the top 10 was made up of four companies from Europe, three from the US, two from Korea and one from China. (Fig.: Top 10 applicants in 2015)

For detailed statistics, and a report on activities in 2015, see the EPO’s annual report at:

About the EPO
With more than 7 000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. 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 on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in the 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.

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Peter Gorman (USA)