Top and bottom of the patent pile

May 4, 2001

Germany appears to be the most industrially innovative country in the European Union, filing 43.6 per cent of EU patent applications with the European Patent Office in 1999. Its nearest rival, France, filed 14.9 per cent.

According to Eurostat, the EU's statistical agency, Germany also scored highest on a patents-per-million workers basis, with 493 applications, followed by Sweden (478) and Finland (455). Britain, with 191, was below the EU average of 261. Least innovative were Portugal (6), Greece (15) and Spain (43).

Regions of the EU that were the most active in EPO patent applications were the Ile de France, Paris (2,813) followed by Oberbayern, Stuttgart and Darmstadt, all in Germany. No British region made the top ten. But it did better in high-tech applications. East Anglia was rated seventh, (183 bids), Hampshire and the Isle of Wight eighth (147) and Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North Somerset tenth (135).

Portugal's low figure is mitigated by the fact that it has shown an average annual increase of more than 20 per cent from 1990-98. Spain (more than 14 per cent) and Finland (13) also did well. Lowest annual increases were in the UK (3 per cent), France (3.7), Italy and Germany (5).

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