EPO reveals ‘significant’ growth for UK patent applications in Europe
17 Mar 2020
The volume of patent applications filed by UK businesses in Europe has risen ‘significantly’ for the sixth year in a row, says the European Patent Office (EPO) in its latest report.
The Patent Index 2019 report published by the European Patent Office (EPO) shows that patent applications originating in the UK rose by 6.9 percent to 6,156 in 2019; building on growth of 8.2 percent in 2018. The UK has also retained its 3 percent share of total European patent applications.
For the second year in a row, the increase in the volume of patent applications originating in the UK is above average compared to the overall increase in filings at the EPO, which rose by 4 percent to 181,406 in 2019. Of these, the largest number of applications originated in the US, Germany and Japan. The UK came 9th in the overall list of top filing nations.
Rolls-Royce was top UK filer 494 patent applications at the EPO in 2019. A newcomer to the top 20 list of UK filers is Cambridge Enterprise Limited (26 applications), the University of Cambridge’s technology transfer entity supporting students and staff to commercialise inventions.
UK sectors producing large volumes of European patent applications include ‘computer technology’ particularly in areas such as AI and machine learning, as well as data processing and generation.
Karl Barnfather, chairman of European intellectual property firm Withers and Rogers said:
“The UK has long been respected for its high-quality, diverse R&D activities and once more there is evidence of strong growth in this year’s patent-filing data from the EPO. The volume of European patent applications originating from the UK has increased more than 20 percent since 2015 - clear evidence of sustained impetus and investment.”
However, he warned that, despite the growth, UK investment investment in R&D lagged significantly behind countries such as Germany and the US. In the UK this equates to just 1.7 percent of GDP, compared to 2.8 percent in the US, 3 percent in Germany and 4.6 percent in South Korea.
But he added that last week’s Budget statement had included “very positive news“ which should help boost innovation activity.
A commitment to increase public investment in R&D to £22 billion by 2024-25 would almost double the current level he said. In addition, the Chancellor plans to invest £800m in a new science research agency, modelled on the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), would spearhead investment in early-stage R&D activity.
Full details of the EPO’s Patent Index 2019 can be found here.