Drop in UK businesses’ patent applications in Europe, reports EPO
22 Mar 2021
Patent applications filed by UK businesses in Europe fell slightly in 2020, according to data published by the European Patent Office.
Similar drops in volume have been recorded by other Western countries, with much attributable to economic effects of the pandemic.
But, while the news is disappointing after a year of strong growth in 2019, the UK retained a 3% share of the total number of patent applications received by the EPO in 2019/20.
Karl Barnfather, chairman of European intellectual property firm Withers & Rogers, commented:
“This data confirms that the volume of patent applications originating in the UK dipped slightly last year, but this is not unexpected and many businesses were forced to slow down innovation due to health and safety measures and focus on managing the pandemic.
“At an advisory level, many of the UK-based businesses that we worked with over the course of last year have been pressing ahead with their R&D programmes, and we are expecting the volume of patent applications to rebound this year and next.”
The EPO Patent Index 2020report shows that patent applications originating in the UK fell from 6,129 in 2018/19 to 5,715 in 2019/20.
This represents a fall of 6.8%; in the preceding two years, the number of UK applications increased 6.4% in 2018/19 and 8.3% in 2017/18.
Unilever was the top UK filer, with 528 patent applications in 2020. It was followed by Rolls-Royce with 299 Advanced New Technologies (282), Linde (182) and BAE Systems (159).
Meanwhile, Chinese and South Korean innovators who both filed over 9% more Europen applications than in the previous year, in spite of COVID.
Barnfather added that the Government’s recent decision to increase corporation tax could persuade more businesses to invest in patent protection in the future, in order to take advantage of Patent Box tax relief, which applies to profits generated from the sale of patented inventions, saying “the 10% reduced rate of Corporation Tax that applies to these profits has now become all the more attractive”.