17 | 03 | 2021

EPO’s Statistical Report for 2020 Published

Infographics - EPO Statistics for 2020

Illustration: EPO

EPO’s Statistical Report for 2020 was published on 16 March on the website of the European Patent Office (EPO) - Patent Index for 2020; it contains the latest statistics and trends in patent protection.

The report gives an extensive analysis of the EPO’s statistics including an overview of patent applications and patents granted by countries of origin, technical fields and leading applicants in 2020.

Despite the pandemic, the overall number of European patent applications filed in 2020 was nearly on a par with the previous year’s, decreasing by 0.7%. The EPO received 180 250 patent applications in total last year, which was slightly below the record level attained in 2019 (181 532). There was also a decrease in the number of registered European patents of 3%, accounting for a total of 133 715 patents granted.

The top five countries that filed the largest number of European patent applications were the USA (as many as 25% of the total number of applications filed), Germany, Japan, China and France, and 45% of all patent applications come from 38 member states of the EPO.

Among the leading technical fields, pharmaceuticals (an increase of 10.2%) and biotechnology (an increase of 6.3%) showed the biggest increases in terms of patent filings. Inventions from the field of medical technology, with a growth of 2,6% in relation to the previous year, retook the leading position from inventions in the field of digital communication, which had been the most active field in 2019. The previous growth champions, digital communication (which includes technologies enabling 5G networks) and computer technology (including AI-related inventions), continued to show strong patenting activity, ranking second and third respectively, and growing by 1.0% and 1.9% in relation to 2019. On the other hand, transport showed the largest drop (-5.5%), especially in the sub-fields of aviation and aerospace (-24.7%), and to a lesser extent automotive (-1.6%).

Samsung heads the table with 3 276 applications, followed by Huawei with 3 113 applications. Applications by large companies account for 74% of the total number of patent applications, 21% by small and medium enterprises and individual inventors, whereas there are 5% applications filed by universities and public research organisations.

According to the number of applications, Croatia recorded a growth of 15.8% (an increase from 19 to 22 applications), which ranks it 27th among 27 Member States of the European Union. Croatia is ranked 34th among the EPO’s 38 member states according to the number of European applications. In relation to the number of applications per one million inhabitants, Croatia is ranked 43rd among the “top 50” countries that filed applications with the EPO in 2020.