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EPO Patent Index 2023: New Unitary Patent System Proves Popular with Patent Owners 

According to the EPO Patent Index 2023 published recently by the European Patent Office (EPO), the EPO received 199,275 applications in 2023, an increase of 2.9% on the previous year and the highest number to date.


The leading technical fields for patent applications at the EPO last year were digital communication, medical technology, and computer technology, while the strongest growth in 2023 was seen in the field of "electrical machinery, apparatus, energy" (up 12.2% over 2022), which covers inventions related to clean-energy technologies, including batteries (up 28%).


In 2023, filings from European applicants occupied about 43% of the total patent applications at the EPO. The top five countries of origin for the patent filings were the US (up 0.4%), which accounts for almost a quarter of all applications, followed by Germany (up 1.4%), Japan (down 0.3%), China (up 8.8%), and Korea (up 21.0%). Among the top five, Korea was a new entrant, while patent applications from China have more than doubled since 2018. And both Korea and China, with steep increases of 21% and 8.8% respectively, were the main drivers of the overall growth in patent applications at the EPO in 2023.


Regarding the top applicants, China's Huawei was once again the leading patent applicant at the EPO in 2023, followed by Korea's Samsung and LG, Qualcomm of the US, and Ericsson of Sweden.


In 2023, registration of the first European patents with unitary effect at the EPO has taken place on 1 June. The new unitary patent system is based on the European patent granted by the EPO under the rules of the European Patent Convention (EPC), and the unitary patent provides inventors with uniform patent protection of their inventions in 17 European Union member states (as of the date of the report). The system proved to be popular with patent owners: 18,300 requests were received for unitary protection, representing 17.5% of the total patents granted by the EPO in 2023, and for 22.3% of those granted in the second half of 2023 after the system was launched. Patentees from Europe had the highest uptake rate at 25.8%, followed by those from the US and China (both 10.9%), Korea (9.7%), and Japan (4.9%). The top unitary patent requestors in 2023 were Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, Qualcomm, Samsung, and Ericsson.


Date:2024-03-25Return to List
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