European Patent Filings Up, But Pharma Stays Flat

March 7, 2013
Rita C. Peters
Rita C. Peters

Rita Peters is editorial director of Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology Europe, and BioPharm International.

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

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.

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