European transport patents increase in 2018

european transport patents
© iStock/Olivier Le Moal

The European Patent Office (EPO) has released its 2018 Annual Report, showing that European companies filed the majority of transport patent applications last year.

Of the 9,093 applications for transport-related patents submitted to the EPO in 2018 – a 5.9 per cent increase on the previous year – 59 per cent were filed by European firms; an increase of just under 12 per cent. The transport sector, comprising road, rail, air and sea travel, represents the fifth largest field of EPO patent applications; around 20 per cent of which were filed by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

In total, 174,317 patent applications were filed with the EPO across all sectors in 2018: an increase of 4.6 per cent in comparison to 2017 figures. 127,625 European patents were granted in 2018, a 21 per cent increase: the EPO attributes the significant boost in patents granted to a combination of “greater production, the elimination of backlogs in patent search and changes to internal work processes”.

Germany filed 2,145 patent applications, the most of any single country and a 15 per cent increase on 2017; with its largest application growth in patents for electric cars, at 71 per cent. Of the major companies submitting applications for patents, the most prolific was Airbus with a total of 253 applications; of the top 10 companies filing patent applications, seven were based in the EU.

António Campinos, President of the EPO, said: “The dominance of European firms in this field shows that the transport industry is a cornerstone of the European economy. Major achievements in transport technology, of which self-driving cars are just one example, underline that innovation is widespread across the sector. It is an industry that makes greater use of intellectual property rights to protect its R&D investments, so the growing number of European patent applications in the field is also a good message for the European economy.”

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