03 March 2016 - No comments »
Earlier today I was in Brussels for the EPO’s Annual Results press conference. In front of a packed audience, I had the opportunity to speak about the significant recent trends in patent applications, as well as to review the remarkable achievements that the EPO has made over the course of the last year.
The results of our Annual Report, released today, show that in 2015, there has been a rise in both filings (+1.6%) and applications (+4.8%) compared to 2014. These figures are yet another confirmation of a trend of positive growth that has been witnessed now for the sixth year in a row and confirms once more sustained interest in patent protection in Europe. Along with increasing applications, the EPO has also granted and published 6% more patents than the previous year; we registered a total of 68,400, while simultaneously continuing our unwavering commitment to quality, which includes end-to-end ISO 9001 certification.
The data also highlights there have been some extremely positive developments for Europe. Almost half of the applications (47%) came from European countries and included substantial increases in applications from countries such as Italy, with 9%. This trend is also echoed by countries with traditionally lower numbers of applications, such as the Czech Republic (+27.5%) and Portugal (+21.2%).
While the other 53% of our applications came from non-European member states, it is important to note that, overall, the balance of patent applications between Europe and the rest of the world remains extremely positive. Based on data from the IP5 offices, there are still more patents being exported from Europe to the rest of the world, indicating that Europe remains a hub for innovation and research. This is further supported by the fact that nine out of the top ten ‘most innovative’ countries (i.e. number of patent applications per million inhabitants) are from Europe.
A full breakdown of our applications is available here and I would encourage all those interested to view for themselves a wide variety of useful statistics. They include, among others, our top applicant companies, the top applicant countries globally and the leading fields of technology, which is once again topped by Medical Technologies (+11%).
The overall rising number of filings and applications in this year’s annual report is just one challenge of the modern international IP system that the EPO has had to face – and manage. After a series of comprehensive reforms, I am delighted that the Office’s internal results have showed we are doing so successfully. With a remarkable 14% increase in production, as well as sustained progress in improving timeliness, the reforms are having a positive effect – for the good of the user, the Office and the staff. They support a business-friendly policy which ensures costs are being successfully controlled and that no matter what trends dominate our annual statistics, the EPO continues to deliver an efficient, world class service.