European Patent Office (EPO) Annual Report Finds U.S. Number One in Global Ranking of Patent Filing Countries in Europe

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Patent Applications by U.S. Companies at EPO Reach All-Time High in 2018; United Technologies is U.S. Company Filing Most Patent Applications in Europe

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I am glad to see the number of U.S. patent applications continue to grow. It shows that Europe is an extremely attractive technology market for U.S. companies, knowing they can rely on a competitive and effective patent system that helps them build strong patent portfolios.

The European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that U.S. companies and inventors filed 2.7% more patent applications at the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2018 than in the previous year, according to its Annual Report. This marks the second year of continued growth, following a decline in applications in 2016.

In 2018, U.S. companies filed 43,612 patent applications with the EPO (2017: 42,463), a new record high. With a share of 25% of all patent applications, the U.S. remained by far the most prolific filing country at the European Patent Office (Fig.: Growth of U.S. patent applications at the EPO).

Overall, the European Patent Office received 174,317 European patent applications in 2018, an increase of 4.6% compared to 2017. (Fig.: Growth of European patent applications). Applications from China rose by 8.8%, their lowest rate in the past five years. Following the US as the top country of origin, were Germany (No. 2), Japan (No. 3), France (No. 4), and China (No.5) (Fig.: Origin of applications).

“I am glad to see the number of U.S. patent applications continue to grow. It shows that Europe is an extremely attractive technology market for U.S. companies, knowing they can rely on a competitive and effective patent system that helps them build strong patent portfolios,” said EPO President António Campinos.

U.S. COMPANIES STRONGEST IN COMPUTERS, MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY, AND PHARMACEUTICALS
U.S. companies filed European patent applications in a wide range of technologies but were particularly strong in several of the ten most important technical fields at the EPO. They accounted for 38% of all patent applications at the EPO in computer technology, as well as in medical technology and pharmaceuticals, and 32% in biotechnology.

In the EPO’s company rankings, U.S. firms had a strong presence in many fields: Microsoft was the leading patent applicant at the EPO in computer technology, with Intel in third place, Alphabet in fourth place, and Qualcomm in seventh. In medical technology, Johnson & Johnson was the new No. 1 (pushing Royal Philips into second place), Medtronic No. 3, Boston Scientific No. 4, and Procter & Gamble No. 8. United Technologies was the No. 2 patent applicant at the EPO in transport (behind Airbus).

Deere & Company was the leading applicant at the EPO in ‘other special machines’, a field covering inventions in several areas from agriculture to 3D printing. In pharmaceuticals, in addition to Merck being the No. 3 and Johnson & Johnson the No. 9, several U.S. universities ranked among the top 20 filers: The University of California was the fifth largest patent applicant in that field, the University of Pennsylvania was No. 11, the University of Texas System was No. 15, and the Johns Hopkins University was No. 19.

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES NEW No.1 U.S. PATENT APPLICANT
With 1,983 European patent applications, United Technologies was the most active U.S. patent applicant at the EPO, followed by Qualcomm (1,593 applications) General Electric (1,307), and Intel (1,057) (Fig.: Top U.S. applicants at the EPO in 2018).

MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY TOP FIELD – LIFE SCIENCES GROWING FAST
Overall, medical technology remains the technical field in which the most patent applications are filed at the EPO (up 5% in 2018), once again followed by digital communication and computer technology. The strongest growth among the top ten fields was recorded in life sciences, with pharmaceuticals and biotechnology combined growing by 13%.

SIEMENS HEADS THE LIST OF APPLICANTS
Siemens was the top patent applicant at the EPO in 2018 with 2,493 applications (it last headed the ranking in 2011), switching positions with Huawei from China, which came in second. They were followed by Korean companies Samsung and LG, and United Technologies from the U.S. The top ten was made up of four companies from Europe, three from the U.S., two from the Republic of Korea and one from China.

For detailed statistics, and a review of our activities in 2018, see the EPO's Annual Report at: http://www.epo.org/annual-report2018

ABOUT THE EPO
With nearly 7,000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with 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 up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.

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Peter Gorman (USA)
Shepard-Fox Communications
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Rainer Osterwalder (Europe)