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EPO a global player

13 April 2011

This week, I had the opportunity to present the EPO’s 2010 statistics to the European and international press. Analysing the figures, two key messages emerge. Firstly, with incoming filings 11 % up on 2009, we have recovered well from last year’s downturn and even exceeded the previous peak (in 2008). For patents at least, the economic crisis seems to be over. Secondly, the EPO received more applications from non-European countries than from its own member states.

Looking at the figures in more detail, the US accounted for 26% of applications, Japan was second with 18%, and Germany, in third place with 14%, was the first European country. Then come three countries with above 5%: France, China and Korea. Overall, non-European countries accounted for 60% and European ones for 40%.

But it is also interesting to look a little bit beyond those general statistics. That is why the EPO publishes every year a list of its top 50 applicants. This gives a somewhat different picture. The top 10 includes 5 European companies: Siemens (No. 1), Philips (No. 2), BASF (No. 3), Bosch (No. 7) and Bayer (No. 10). It also features 4 Asian firms (2 Japanese and 2 Korean): Samsung (No. 4), Panasonic (No. 6), Sony (No. 8) and LG (No. 9), and one from the US (Qualcomm, No. 5).

Looking at the top 50, European companies (mainly German) are well-represented but still make up less than half (21). There are 16 Asian companies, mainly Japanese, 12 from the US and one from Canada (the BlackBerry manufacturer).

What conclusions can we draw from theses figures? Firstly, that China is rapidly becoming a global player, and that Chinese companies are steadily moving beyond their domestic market. But for the moment, only one Chinese company features in the top 50 (Huawei, at No. 18). Also, that the US is very strong in IT, and Europe has world leaders in mechanical engineering, chemistry, car-making, aeronautics and pharmaceuticals.

To conclude with a figure which confirms the EPO’s major international role: in 2010, the EPO was chosen as PCT authority by fully 42% of international patent applicants. That puts it well ahead of the field for the most important patents economically. I see this as a tribute to the success of our policy

BenoƮt Battistelli

President

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2 comments on EPO a global player

  1. hailong says:

    It is surprised to know that China is listed after Germany before EPO in filing patent applications. May I have more information on those Chinese applicants? THe figure will be much helpful for us to convince more Chinese companies to file more application to protect their IP.

    Your help on this is highly appreciated.

    Thanks and best.

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