Patent activities 2014 in a continuous positive trend

03 March 2015 - No comments »

EPO President Benoît BattistelliLast week in Brussels I presented the EPO’s annual results for 2014 at a well-attended conference with many journalists. For the fifth year in a row our growth continued for patent filings (+3.1% and almost 275 000 filings in 2014), representing a new record and confirming a positive trend (+10 000 patent filings each year on average). The share from the EPO member states remained stable (35% of the total), with some noticeable increases from the Netherlands, the UK and France. Among Europeans, German companies are still the main source of filings to the EPO (11% of the total) with a stable volume. Some countries with lower filing levels experienced some remarkable growth: Poland (+21.5%), Greece (+20.8%), Slovenia (+12.6%), Portugal (+7.6%) and Turkey (+6.2%). The remaining 65% of filings coming from outside Europe had four main origins: the US accounted for the largest share with 26%, followed by Japan (18%), China (9%) and Korea (6%). Two of them have significantly increased their volume: US up 6.8% over the previous year, and China up 18.2%. Another interesting indicator is the ratio of European patent applications per million inhabitants. The top 3 is composed of Switzerland with 848 applications per million inhabitants, Finland (416) and the Netherlands (406).

Samsung topped the company ranking for the third year in a row, followed by Philips, Siemens, LG, Huawei, BASF, Qualcomm, Robert Bosch, Ericsson and Intel. But the EPO is not a service provider just for global companies: in 2014 30% of applications came from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and 6% from universities or research institutes. Regarding the different technological fields the volume of applications grew most strongly in 2014 in the fields of biotechnology (+12.1%), electrical machinery (+8%), computer technology (7.8%), digital communication and measurement (+6.6% each).

A total of 64 600 patents were granted by the EPO in 2014, ca 3% fewer than in 2013. This is explained by a higher rate of withdrawal by applicants at a late stage of processing and the stronger focus of resources on the search phase, in particular with the start of the new Early Certainty from Search scheme since July 2014. In response to growing demand the EPO is further modernising its structure and improving its processes and services, The implementation of our Efficiency and Quality strategy is improving productivity and quality, placing emphasis on core activities with the recruitment of 191 examiners in 2014 (total: 4225). Indeed the Office is seen as a very attractive employer, receiving the highest number of applications (almost 20 000) last year. Several business-oriented initiatives taken in 2014 (e.g. PCT Direct, PCT top-up search, freeze of the fees) have been very popular, as seen by the positive trend in demand for our PCT services (the EPO delivers 38.3% of all international search reports and 55.7% of all international preliminary examination reports).

In the coming months, the final decisions regarding the unitary patent package should be taken, notably with regard to the level of the fees. The Global Dossier, launched in June 2014 with SIPO, should be completed with data from the other IP5 partners, making it a truly single entry point for easy access to information on parallel files. The preliminary work concerning the procedural harmonisation is really promising and should bear some fruits soon. To conclude, 2015 will bear witness to significant progress in helping the patent system to better respond to business needs and to improving quality globally.

Benoît Battistelli

  • Share this post:

Older posts

EPO Quality Dashboard 2014 – an excellent year

Last year was a milestone for the EPO’s Quality Management System (QMS). It was the culmination of several years of work in a variety of areas – implementing and refining measurements, establishing operational quality controls, documenting procedures and internal auditing of the QMS process. We crowned these efforts at the end of 2014 with the […]

The spirit of Artur Fischer

I first met Artur Fischer during the European Inventor Award ceremony in Berlin in June 2014 when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award. I was most impressed by this extraordinary character – the 95-year-old doyen of inventors, the “man of 1000 patents”, as the German press reverentially refer to him. He invited me to visit his […]

A win-win agreement between the EPO and Morocco

This week we witnessed an historic “first” from the perspective of the European Patent Organisation: the validation agreement with Morocco. Indeed the EPO, starting with 7 member states in 1977, now boasts 38 countries representing a market of 600 million inhabitants. Two other European states, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, have the status of “extension states”: the […]

New peak of patent filings at the EPO in 2014

This week we published our preliminary filing figures for 2014. Although the precise numbers are still being worked on, indications are that we saw over 270 00 filings last year, an increase of approximately 3%. This is in line with the trend observed over the last four years with annual increases between 2% and 4%. […]

2014, another successful year for the EPO

As the year draws to a close, it is time to look back on the achievements of the last twelve months. First, 2014 can be regarded as a very successful year for the EPO, as in many areas we reached our best ever performances. In terms of filings, we expect a 3% – 3.5% increase […]

ISO certification for the EPO’s patent granting process

This week, on behalf of the EPO, I was very pleased to receive the ISO 9001 certificate for our entire patent granting process covering: search and examination; opposition; limitation and revocation. The EPO is the first among the big patent offices to have achieved this internationally recognised standard for its quality management system. Quality is […]

Celebrating 20 years of OHIM

Anniversaries are a good opportunity to reflect on the past, to review achievements and to imagine future improvements. In this regard, I think it is fair to say that the celebrations at the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, in Alicante last week, illustrated their impressive results in only two decades. OHIM’s geographical coverage […]

Europe and China in strategic partnership for patents

It comes as a surprise to some that the relationship between the EPO and the Patent Office of China (SIPO) started decades ago. Ever since Deng Xiaoping began to open up China and its economy at the end of the 1970s, numerous initiatives have been taken by the Chinese authorities. One of them was to […]

Adapting patent information to the global needs

Last week in Warsaw the EPO organised its popular Patent Information Conference (EPOPIC). It is always a pleasure for me to attend this unique annual gathering of patent information specialists from Europe and around the world: more than 400 attendees from a total of 48 countries participated in this 24th session. I particularly enjoyed the […]