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.”