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The number of patents registered in Germany is declining. Germany is still second behind the US – but China is catching up.


Volume from Germany is falling, as the European Patent Office registers a record number of patent applications.

Overall, the Munich-based office counted 193,460 applications last year, which is 2.5 percent more than the previous year, as the EPO announced on Tuesday. Enrollments from Germany fell 4.7 percent to 24,684 – the lowest level in more than a decade.

Second place in threatened patent applications

Germany is still second behind the US (48,088), but that could change in a few years if the trend continues.

The proportion of German patent applications filed with the EPO fell from 17.9 percent to 12.8 percent in the last ten years.

Ilja Rudyk, EPA economist

EPA economist Ilja Rudyk sees the shift between sectors as the reason. There is strong growth, especially in digital areas. These “do not play such a large role in patent applications from Germany,” he explained.

By contrast, patent applications are stagnant in Germany’s strong fields such as mechanical engineering and vehicle technology.

Ilja Rudyk, EPA economist

As a result, Germany could lose second place in a few years to China, which is now fourth after Japan.

Patents: China is catching up

Rudyk said 4,075 patent applications were filed from China in 2013, while 19,041 patent applications were filed last year.

In purely mathematical terms, if the trend continued, China could overtake Germany in at least three years.

Ilja Rudyk, EPA economist

The largest patent applicant in terms of number of items also comes from China: Huawei reached 4,505 applications, an increase of nearly 1,000 – this is indisputably the first place.

It is followed by LG (3,510), Qualcomm and Samsung (2,874), which nearly doubled their registrations to 2,966. German number 1 Siemens ranks sixth with 1,735 patent applications.

Siemens: We proceed differently in patent applications

However, a large number of patent applications is not everything. “One of the reasons for the high number of patents for some top applicants is that it relates to mobile phone patents for 5G and 6G,” said Beat Weibel, head of the Siemens patent department.

“These patents are typically licensed in pools, and the more a company brings in, the more royalties,” he explained. “

Accordingly, it is worth registering as many patents as possible, some of which are also on a small scale. This is not our approach.

Beat Weibel, head of the Siemens patent department

Energy transition and digital technology drive growth

The energy transition and digital technology play an important role in the overall increase in the number of patent applications. EPO President Antonio Campinos said more patent protection applications have been filed, particularly for clean energy technology and other processes for electricity generation, distribution and storage.

The continued ascent in this area is helping to advance the energy transition.

Antonio Campinos, President of the EPO

The EPA reported a real boom, especially with a 48 percent increase in battery technology. The “Electrical Machinery/Equipment/Energy” segment, which includes these technologies, grew by 18 percent. However, the largest number of applications last year came from the digital communications field, where only 16,705 patents were filed, up eleven percent from the previous year.

Source: ZDF

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