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Clean tech helps drive record demand for European patents – Research Professional News



Image: Chris Redan, via Shutterstock

United States remains top applicant country, but growth driven mainly by Asia

A record number of almost 200,000 European patent applications were filed last year, driven by innovation in areas including clean technologies.

The European Patent Office reported an increase of 2.9 per cent in the number of patent applications it received in 2023, following similar growth of 2.6 per cent in 2022 and 4.7 per cent in 2021.

EPO president António Campinos said on 19 March that these record numbers attest to “both the attractiveness of the European technology market and the high quality of our products and services”.

Clean tech and digital thriving

The fastest growing technology field was electrical machinery, apparatus and energy, in which the number of applications increased by 12.2 per cent. This field covers inventions relating to clean-energy technologies, including batteries. Applications relating only to batteries increased by 28 per cent.

The EPO also noted increased activity around digital technologies, with digital communication showing particularly fast growth of 8.6 per cent.

Campinos said: “Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises are making ever-increasing use of patents, with the share of applications from SMEs at its highest level yet last year.”

He added that businesses can now benefit from the unitary patent; introduced in 2023 after years in development, it is intended to make it easier for applicants to gain protection across multiple European countries.

US leadership, Asian growth

In terms of increases in applications by country, Finland came top in Europe with an increase of 9.2 per cent, followed by Spain on 6.9 per cent.

More than half (57 per cent) of applications originated from outside Europe, led by the US with 48,155; it was followed in the top five by Germany, Japan, China and South Korea.

Notably, the overall growth in patent applications was mainly fuelled by a 21 per cent increase from South Korea, and an 8.8 per cent increase from China.

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