EPO Annual Report – 2017 a positive year for patents in Europe

March 2018

The EPO annual report (out 7 March 2018) shows a continued rise in patent applications at the EPO.  The EPO received nearly 166 000 European patent applications in 2017, an increase of +3.9% and an all-time high.  

The total number of patents granted also saw a rise – in 2017 the EPO published more than 105 600 granted European patents, an increase of 10.1% from 2016, and the highest number ever.  The increase was also partly due to new working practices of expediting grants on applications which are already in good order at an early stage.

Medical technology stays top

Medical technology remains the field with the greatest number of patent applications at the EPO (up +6.2%), followed by digital communication and computer technology.  The strongest growth (of the top 10 fields) was recorded in biotechnology (+14.5%), followed by pharmaceuticals (+8.1%) and measurement (+6.6%).

National Growth

European patent applications originating from the UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland all increased -  by 2.4%, 2.7% and 0.6% respectively.  Importantly, granted patents based on the country of residence of the patentee also saw a rise for UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland - by 6.3%, 15% and 0.5% respectively.

1 in 4 applications at the EPO come from SMEs

A breakdown by category of applicants requesting services from the EPO shows that 69% of them were large companies, 24% were SMEs and individual inventors, and 7% were universities and public research institutes. This shows that a significant proportion of applicants at the EPO are smaller entities.

The full report can be found here.

Infographic on European trends in patenting.

This update was prepared by HGF Partner Vanessa Stainthorpe. If you would like further advice on this or any other matter please contact Vanessa or your usual HGF representative, alternatively visit our Contact Page to get in touch with your nearest HGF office.