On 16 March 2021, the European Patent Office (EPO) published the Patent Index 2020, which provides an overview of European filing activities during 2020. Despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, European patent applications filed at the European Patent Office in 2020 remained stable.
As we mentioned in a previous article, at the overall EPO level, the fields of technology with the highest increase in applications were medical technologies, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, with growth of +2.6%, +10.2% and +6.3%, respectively. These three fields alone account for approximately 16.7% of all patent applications filed at the EPO in 2020.
In a detailed analysis by country and as far as Spain is concerned, 2020 was the second-best year in its history in terms of the number of European patent applications of Spanish origin at the EPO. Specifically, 1 791 applications of Spanish origin were filed (including direct European patent applications filed at the EPO and international (PCT) applications that entered the European phase during the reporting period). This represents a slight decline of 5% compared to 2019 when an all-time high was obtained but, on the other hand, exceeds the number of applications filed in any year prior to 2019. The following graph shows the number of European patent applications filed by Spanish holders in the last five years, and the upward trend.
When looking at the different technological sectors of European patent applications of Spanish origin filed in 2020, the Report notes that pharmaceutical technology continues to be the sector with the highest number of European applications (192), followed by medical technology (126) and transport (122).
By Autonomous Communities, Catalonia continues leading the regional ranking with a share of 31.2% of the total number of applications of Spanish origin to the EPO, followed by the Community of Madrid (21.1%) and the Basque Country (11.9%).
However, the figure for the total number of European patent applications of Spanish origin filed in 2020 must be put into context and compared with the total number of European applications of any origin filed. In this sense, the 1 791 European applications of Spanish origin correspond to a scant 1% of the total (180 250 applications), which places Spain in the modest 16th place in the ranking of European patent applications by country in 2020. It should be noted that this ranking is led by the United States (25% of the total), followed by Germany (14% of the total) and Japan (12% of the total), and these first three countries account for half of the European applications filed in 2020.
Although the data published in the Patent Index 2020 are, in general, positive for Spain and show a clear commitment to the protection of innovation through European patents in our country, they also reveal that the sustained growth over time in the number of European patent applications of Spanish origin must be intensified in order to reach the corresponding position based on the number of applications per million inhabitants, where Spain is currently in 26th place, surpassed by countries such as Estonia and Slovenia.
Article by Diana Mariné.