Latest European Patent Office (EPO) data reveals the UK was responsible for 293 pharmaceutical sector patents in 2019 – an increase of 9.3% over the 268 filed during the previous 12 months.
The UK notably outperformed Switzerland and Germany increasing its filings by 9.3% over the course of a year.
Globally, the number of pharmaceutical patent applications in 2019 rose to 7,697, up from 7,371 in 2018 and representing an increase of 4.4%.
The global growth trend in pharmaceutical patents has been uneven with a significant reduction in filing from Japan and China, down 18.5% and 17.6% respectively.
Said a spokesperson: “Although Japan has a strong pharmaceutical industry, the relatively weak Japanese economy might be an indication of why there is a reduction in pharmaceutical patents from Japan.
"Despite its size, originator Chinese pharmaceutical companies are less well developed on the International stage and hence their filing numbers are relatively small. Thus, even a modest change in numbers would reflect a large percentage change.”
European patent applications have increased steadily since 2012. In 2019, the EPO received a record number of patent applications, approximately 181,000, a rise of 4% over 2018. Globally, digital communications received the most new patents, followed by medical technology and computer technology.
The US remained the clear leader in 2019 with a huge 3,026 patent applications, an increase of over 14% over the previous year.
Paul Chapman, partner at leading intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk, commented on the report and its findings:
“The latest figures from the EPO show that in the UK and globally, the pharmaceutical industry remains a major source of innovation. As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic demonstrates, innovation is key to the pharmaceutical sector, pathogens continue to evolve, and the pharmaceutical industry needs to evolve too, to meet the challenge posed by novel pathogens, such as COVID-19.
“Today, the challenges faced by the pharma sector are quite different to those it was faced with even a few months ago. As economies across the globe come grinding to a halt, the pharma industry has been thrust into the spotlight with millions watching and expectantly waiting. Today, as drug companies race to find treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19 and with thousands of lives at stake, innovation is crucial.”