European firms fuel growth in patent applications

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology patent applications increased by 13 percent last year, with over 6,000 applications coming from European companies…

The number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology patent applications filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) increased by 13 percent last year, report findings show.

In all, there were more than 14,000 European patent applications filed in these sectors.

The report states that the number of patent applications from Europe account for much of the growth.

European companies filed 3,156 patent applications related to pharmaceuticals in 2018. This was in comparison with 2,797 from the US, 423 from Japan, 227 from China and 194 from Korea.

In biotechnology, European firms filed 3,269 patent applications, compared to 2,173 applications originating from the US, 515 from Japan, 191 from Korea and 185 from China.

An analysis of the patent applications originating from European countries showed that every fifth application came from an SME, demonstrating that patent protection is of great importance to individual inventors and smaller organisations.

“The rapid growth of the number of patent applications in the life sciences area is highly indicative of the sheer amount of R&D work being undertaken in this field,” said EPO President António Campinos. “It is encouraging to see that firms in this dynamic sector value the strength of the European market. Europe provides an encouraging environment for ambitious and entrepreneurial firms, and we will continue to deliver the best possible services to ensure that we have a competitive and effective patent system, so that life sciences companies can keep up their research and innovation.”

The EPO received more than 174,000 applications last year, an increase of 4.6 percent, suggesting that demand for patent protection is continuing to grow, according to the Office.

German firms were responsible for the largest share of patent applications in the pharmaceutical sector with an 8 percent share, closely followed by France (6 percent ), Switzerland (6 percent), the UK (4 percent ) and the Netherlands (3 percent share).

Similarly, in biotechnology, 11 percent of the patent applications came from German companies, who posted a 15.1 percent growth since 2017. Germany was followed by Switzerland (7 percent), France (6 percent), the Netherlands (6 percent) and Denmark (4 percent).

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