Siemens München, © IO

Siemens has taken over the global leading position from Huawei in terms of the number of patent applications. Whereas the Chinese company was by far the most innovative company in the world in 2017, Munich based Siemens has now taken over this title with 2,497 applications at the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2018. Philips remains the most innovative Dutch company with a sixth position on the list. The total number of patent applications filed by Dutch companies grew by 1.4% in 2018. According to the annual report of the EPO published today, it shows steady growth for the second consecutive year after a decline two years ago (-4% in 2016). With 7,140 patent applications, the Netherlands ranks eighth worldwide. The Brabant region – and Eindhoven in particular – remains the centre of gravity in the Netherlands in terms of the number of patent applications.

octrooien EOB 2018

In terms of the number of patent applications filed relative to its population, which can indicate a country’s strength in innovation, the Netherlands with 416 patent applications per one million inhabitants is the second country at the EPO, surpassed only by Switzerland. The Netherlands is followed by Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

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octrooien EOB 2018

Overall, the European Patent Office received 174 317 European patent applications in 2018, an increase of 4.6% compared to 2017. Applications by China rose by 8.8%, their lowest rate in the past five years. The US remained the top country of origin, accounting for 25% of total applications, followed by Germany, Japan, France, and China

octrooien EOB 2018

“The Netherlands ranks very highly in terms of patent applications per capita, making it one of the most innovative places in the world. The country sets an example by showing that investing in research and development secures our future because patented technologies increase competitiveness and are the foundation for jobs, income, and economic growth, as a study clearly demonstrates,” said EPO President António Campinos.

With 1,617 patent applications, Royal Philips was by far the Netherland’s most active patent applicant at the EPO in 2018, ahead of Philips Lighting (573), followed by Airbus (509), DSM (500) and NXP (312). In the EPO’s overall list of top-ranked patent applicants, Royal Philips again came in sixth.

octrooien EOB 2018

Within the ten most important technology fields at the EPO, Royal Philips was the No. 2 in medical technology, behind Johnson & Johnson, as well as No. 2 in measurement, following Siemens and ahead of Robert Bosch, and the No. 8 in computer technology. Philips Lighting was the No. 3 in ‘electrical machinery, apparatus, energy’, and DSM was the No. 2 in biotechnology after Hoffmann-La Roche.

The main technology sectors with the most patent applications overall from the Netherlands were medical technology, followed by ‘electrical machinery, apparatus, energy’, and computer technology. Within the country’s biggest technology fields, applications from the Netherlands grew strongest in food chemistry (+36%), biotechnology (+23%), and macromolecular chemistry and polymers (+21%).

The Province of North Brabant leads the Dutch ranking of regions with a 50% share (-0.8%) of all European patent applications originating from the Netherlands and was the fifth strongest European region for patent applications at the EPO in 2018. It was followed by South Holland (15% share, up from 14.7%) and Limburg (12.6%, up from an 11.3% share). The biggest growth in patent applications was recorded in Utrecht (+25.7%), and Overijssel (+25.5%). In the city ranking, Eindhoven leads by far with 2 770 patent applications or a 36% share, ahead of Amsterdam (455 patent applications, -11.2% over 2017), and Rotterdam (333, +10.3%).

octrooien EOB 2018

octrooien EOB 2018

Overall, medical technology remains the technical field in which the most patent applications are filed at the EPO (up 5% in 2018), once again followed by digital communication and computer technology. The strongest growth among the top ten fields was recorded in life sciences, with pharmaceuticals and biotechnology combined growing by 13%.

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Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.