Brussels, 05 March 2002
The number of patent applications to the European Patent Office (EPO) rose steadily during the second half of the 1990s, although applications from the USA and Japan rose by more than those from the EU, according to new figures from Eurostat.
In the year 2000, the EPO received 57,473 requests from the EU, 43,761 from the USA and 18,780 from Japan. While this puts the EU is in first position, the strongest growth was recorded in the USA, at 14.3 per cent, followed by Japan at 11.1 per cent and finally the EU at 10.9 per cent. The gaps in patent applications do however become narrower if considered in terms of the number of patents per capita. In 2000, the USA reported 158.2 requests per million inhabitants.
Within the EU, Germany is far ahead of the other Member States, accounting for 42.4 per cent of all patent requests made to the EPO, followed by France and the United Kingdom, representing 14.4 per cent and 12.9 per cent of requests respectively. The remaining 12 Member States only apply for 30.3 percent of EU patents between them. Here too, however, gaps become narrower when considered in relative terms. In 2000, Sweden and Finland overtook Germany, France and the UK in relative terms, and Sweden, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Denmark all reported per capita application requests above the EU average.
Recent years have shown a change in the subjects of patent requests, a growing number now applying to high tech inventions. Demand for these types of patents grew by 22 per cent between 1995 and 2000, compared with 10 per cent for overall patent applications. While most high tech applications from European countries apply to communication technologies, micro-organisms and genetic engineering account for the largest proportion of applications in Denmark, Greece and Portugal.
By region, Upper Bavaria in Germany, followed by the Ile-de-France and the Dutch Noord-Brabant were top of the league for patent applications in 2000, although in relative terms, the Finnish region of Uusimaa topped the table, followed by the German and Dutch regions.
For further information on the European Patent Office, please consult the following web address: http://www.european-patent-office.org