Patents - EPO Annual Report 2017: Some Encouragement for the UK but the Big Story is the Rise of China


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Jane Lambert

As I noted yesterday in Comptroller visits the EPO 27 March 2018 NIPC News, British companies and inventors applied for 5 313 European patents last year according to the European Patent Office's Annual Report 2017 which was a 2.4% increase over the 5,188 of the previous year and the 4th straight year of increase.  This is with with an increase in PCT applications from the UK from 5,502 in 2016 to an estimated 5,567 in 2017 (see  PCT international applications by origin on the WIPO website). There has also been a 9.3% increase in international trade mark applications through the Madrid system (see Madrid international applications by origin) and a small increase in design applications under the Hague agreement to which the UK has recently acceded (see  Hague international applications by origin).

It is probably too early to speculate on the reasons for this increase in filing activity from the UK but it may reflect growing confidence in the enforcement options available in the UK as industry becomes more familiar with the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court and the Unified Patent Court still shows flickering signs of life.

Encouraging though those trends are, it is salutary to remember that the UK is in 9th place in the number of European patent applications in 2017 behind the USA (42,300), Germany (25,490), Japan (21,712), France (10,559), China (8,330), Switzerland (7,283), the Netherlands (7,043) and South Korea (6,261). The big story of the latest EPO Annual Report has been the rise of China. That country now accounts for 16% of European patent application filings and its share has been growing rapidly since 2008 (see European Patent Filings 2008 to 20017).  For the first time a Chinese company, Huwawei, topped the list of applicants for European patents with 2,398 applications (see Applicants on the EPO website).

On 21 March 2018 the WIPO reported that "China moved into the second position as a source of international patent applications filed via WIPO in 2017, closing in on long-time leader United States of America" (see China Drives International Patent Applications to Record Heights; Demand Rising for Trademark and Industrial Design Protection Geneva, 21 March 2018 PR/2018/816).  Again, Huawei came top of the list of applicants followed by ZTE which is also a Chinese company.  In World Intellectual Property Indicators 2017 the WIPO reported that China topped the world in the number of patent applications with 1.3 million followed by the USA with 605,571 and Japan 318,381. China was also number one in the number of trade mark, design and utility model applications (see "Key Numbers" on page 7).

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or patent, trade mark or design registration activity in general should call me during normal British office hours on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

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Date
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27 March 2018
NIPC News
Other Update

Date
Title
Publication
27 March 2018
NIPC Data Protection

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