UK European patent applications leap for fifth year, thanks to pharma and pumps
12 Mar 2019
The number of European patent applications from UK firms and inventors has increased for the fifth year in succession.
Statistics from the European Patent Office (EPO) for 2018 reveal a 7.8% rise, with chemistry and pharmaceuticals among the leading drivers.
Engines, pumps and turbines also recorded significant increases as the tenth most active technology field and achieving a 19% rise in applications.
And they accounted for 53% of applications by the UK’s leading patent applicant to the EPO – Rolls-Royce. The firm topped the British list for the fourth successive year with 352 applications, followed by Unilever (289), BT (166), BAE Systems (162) and GlaxoSmithKline (153). Oxford university (66 applications).
In total, the UK recorded 5,736 applications and its percentage rise was more than double the average growth of 3.8% recorded by the 38 EPO member states.
Industries with a high use of intellectual property rights, including patents, contribute to employment, growth and trade
António Campinos, president, European Patent Office
EPO president António Campinos commented: “Companies need a competitive and robust patent system so they can build strong patent portfolios.
"That is good for the economy as recent studies have shown that industries with a high use of intellectual property rights, including patents, strongly contribute to generating employment, growth and trade.“
Best regional performers were Greater London which boasted more than a third of all UK applications and which ranks 8th overall among European patent regions; while the North West of England had the strongest growth in applications with a 29.4% increase year on year.
Overall, there were 174,317 European patent applications submitted. The USA accounted for 25%, followed by Germany, Japan, France and China.
The bulk of the increase is from Europe, which accounted for 40% of the year on year rise and exceeded China, Japan and South Korea combined. Last year’s leading company patent applicant, China's Huawei, fell to second place behind Siemens, which recorded 2,493 applications and which last topped the rankings in 2011.
PIC: Pump companies such as Neil Langdon's Bedford Pumps have performed well in the export market. A growth in UK patent applications is likely to increase interest generally in the technology.