Record Filings at the European Patent Office in 2021

Despite the pandemic filings of European patent applications increased again. 188 600 patent applications were received by European Patent Office (EPO) in 2021, which is an increase of 4.5% in comparison to the previous year.

This is the highest number of applications ever filed in one year. The EPO’s Patent Index 2021 shows that patent filings rebounded significantly last year after a slight dip in 2020 (-0.6%).

In general the number of patent applications is seen as an early indicator of how the budgets of research and development investments of companies worldwide evolve.

Source website of EPO


For applications in 2021 the top countries of origin were the US (25% of total filings), Germany (14%), Japan (11%), China (9%) and France (6%). Wherein patent applications are concentrated in a few countries, with five countries accounting for 64% of European patent applications in 2021, and the top 20 countries accounting for 95%.

The strongest growth in patent applications at the EPO in 2021 was happened due to filings from China (+24% in comparison to 2020) and the US (+5.2%). Applications from South Korea were also increased in 2021 (+3.4%), while Japan experienced a slight decrease filings (-1.2%).Patent applications from the 38 European Patent Organization countries experienced an slight increase last year (+2.8%). However,  the number of applications from Europe continued to decline, falling from 50% of the total in 2013 to 44% in 2021. This trend shows that the European market is considered as relevant to companies outside Europe. Especially companies from Asia, seek to protect their inventions on the European market.

In accordance with the general numbers Huawei was the leading patent applicant at the EPO in 2021 (as in 2019), wherein Samsung, and LG were in second and third place. Ericsson and Siemens both moved up a position, to fourth and fifth respectively. The top ten includes four companies from Europe, two from South Korea, two from the US, and one from each of China and Japan.

This IP Alert is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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