European Patent Filings Up, But Pharma Stays Flat

Mar 07, 2013

While the number of patent filings at the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2012 increased by 5.2% over 2011, pharmaceutical-based patents remained flat, and biotechnology patents dropped slightly.

The EPO reports 5377 filings for pharmaceutical patents in 2012, compared to 5364 in 2011. Biotechnology-based patents dropped 4.3% from 5550 in 2011 to 5309 in 2012.

Last year, the EPO received a total of 257744 patent filings from all over the world. The number of filings originating from the 38 EPO member states reached a new peak in 2012, beating the previous record set in 2008. The EPO also published 65687 granted patents, 5.8% more than in 2011 (62115).

“The growth of filings from European businesses is a clear indication that industry here has opted to innovate its way out of the economic crisis," EPO President Benoît Battistelli said in a statement. "The patent filings of today are shaping the innovations of tomorrow. These results confirm that Europe is not only a prime location for R&D activities but also valued as a stronghold of innovation by both technology generating and exporting companies."

More than one-third of all filings came from the 38 EPO member states. The top five countries in 2012 were the US (24.6%), Japan (20.1%), Germany (13.3%), China (7.3%), and Korea (5.6%). The most active European countries after Germany were France (4.7%), Switzerland (3.2%), the UK (2.6%) and the Netherlands (2.5%).

With 2.3% growth, the number of filings from Europe has recovered well from the slight decline in 2011 (-0.9%). The steepest growth rates, however, again came from Chinese (+11.1%), Korean (+9.3%) and Japanese (+9.1%) companies. Asian countries accounted for more than half of total growth.

The EPO also published a new record of granted patents: 65687. Almost half went to European companies.