EPO receives record number of patent filings – but what about the UK?

March 2015

The EPO has published its filing figures for 2014.  “Patent filings at the EPO grew by 3.1% in 2014, hitting a new record high of over 274 000 (2013: 266 000). 

Among the EPO member states, the Netherlands, France and the UK showed significant growth, some countries like Germany and Sweden remained stable, while filings from countries such as Finland, Switzerland and Spain declined. The number of filings from China and the US grew strongly, while the number of filings from Japan fell. A total of 64 600 patents were granted by the EPO in 2014.

“Demand for patent protection in Europe has been growing steadily, and is up for the fifth year in a row,” says EPO President Benoȋt Battistelli. “Europe continues to strengthen its key role as a global hub of technology and innovation for a growing number of companies from around the world. The rise in patent filings originating from Europe underlines the importance of patent-intensive industries as a solid base for the European knowledge economy: they foster Europe’s competitiveness, economic strength and employment.”

However, when you look into the details of the figures, the UK has fallen out of the top 10 when it comes to applications per head of population.

HGF’s Matt Dixon, had this to say on behalf of CIPA: “British businesses need to wake up and realise that patents are not just for wild-haired inventors, but are a key part of everyday innovation strategy.

Without protection for their products, British businesses leave themselves wide open to competition from lower cost economies, such as China, who can simply copy technology with impunity.

In an innovation economy, where 80% of a business’ assets are intangible, companies cannot afford to fail to protect the fruits of their product development.

The UK is only slightly better than Italy in the rate of European patent filing per head of population and way behind Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. “Even if account is taken of the UK’s significant service sector, where less patenting would be expected, the picture remains the same; Britain has fallen behind other European countries.”

If you would like further advice on your patent strategy, please contact Matt Dixon or your usual HGF representative or visit our Contact Page to get in touch with your nearest HGF office.