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European Patent Office Filings, Awards Gain in 2011

EPO patent examiner (European Patent Office)

EPO patent examiner (European Patent Office)

The European Patent Office, based in Munich, says the number of patent applications and awards increased in 2011, with applications from Asia now making up about a third of the total. The largest single technical field among applications was medical technology, which had almost as many filings in 2011 as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology combined.

EPO released the data on Friday in its annual report, which show the number of applications in 2011 rising 3.7 percent to 244,437. The number of applications granted in 2011 also rose to 62,112, an increase of 6.9 percent. Applications from China, Japan, and Korea numbered more than 77,600, representing about a third (32%) of the total, up from 30 percent in 2010. EPO’s member states provided nearly four in 10 (37.5%) of the applications, and U.S. applicants made up about a quarter (24%) of the filings.

More than 9,300 patent applications were in medical technologies, which made up the largest single technical field. Among other life science fields, 4,818 applications were for pharmaceuticals and nearly as many (4,731) were in biotechnology. In the physical sciences, electrical machinery and energy technologies had 8,550 applications — the second-largest technical category — while organic fine chemistry applications numbered 6,296 in 2011. Information technologies were among the leading categories of applications in 2011, with 7,561 filings for inventions in computer technology and 7,161 applications for digital communications.

Among companies filing patents with EPO in 2011, Siemens had the largest number with 2,235, some 27 percent more than than Philips in second place (1,759) and Samsung (1,733), a close third. Five of the top 10 companies filing patents with EPO were from Europe, two companies are headquartered in the U.S., with two from Korea, and one in Japan. The list includes:

Siemens – 2,235
Philips – 1,759
Samsung – 1,733
BASF – 1,638
LG Group – 1,493
Qualcomm – 1,482
General Electric – 1,325
Robert Bosch – 1,192
Ericsson – 1,148
Mitsubishi – 1,082


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