Highlights from the report
The EPO has just published the annual report of its work in 2018. The graphic summarises the main points. Patent applications at the EPO totalled 174,317, an increase of 4.6% over the previous year. The number of patents granted was 127,625; an increase of 20.8% over 2017. EU states' applicants made up 47% of the total, US 25%, Japan 13%, PR China 5% Korea 4% and Others, 6%. The national origin is taken from the country of residence of the first-named applicant.
The EPO infographic is from here.
Among EU states' applicants, the top five were Germany, France, Switzerland, Netherlands and UK, all of which experienced increases in applications apart from France, which showed a 2.8% decrease. The detail on these statistics is shown here.
An interesting graphic shows the top technologies among these top 5:
The five companies with the greatest number of applications were Siemens, Huawei, Samsung, LG and United Technologies in decreasing order.
The top technical fields overall were medical technology, digital communication and computer technology.
Interestingly, among patent applications originating in Europe, 20% were from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) - defined at the foot of the page, while 9% were from universities and public research organisations.
Oppositions formed a tiny proportion of the EPO's work, at only just over 4,000 cases.
The report doesn't give specific information on the languages of filing. The three official languages of the EPO are German, French and English. Overall, a majority of patent applications might be in English, while among the European applicants, it is likely that applications in English and German would top the list, followed by French. This is reflected in our experience of being extremely busy with translations from German over the last year.
It's well worth having a look at the Annual Report for an overview of the EPO's activity.
Definition of SMEs from the Report
SMEs have been identified based on the European Commission definition of SMEs (2003/361/EC). According to this definition, an SME is i) an independent company with ii) less than 250 staff and iii) a turnover below €50 million and/or a balance sheet below €43 million. Detailed financial data and company ownership data from the BvD Orbis database have been used to enable a strict application of this definition.