European patent applications up almost 5 pct in 2018

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BERLIN, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Last year saw a record number of new patents registered in Europe, according to annual results from the European Patent Office (EPO) published on Tuesday.

The Munich-based organization registered more than 174,300 patent applications in 2018, an increase of 4.6 percent compared with the previous year.

The "annual results are good news for the European economy: demand for patent protection continues to grow, which means inventors and businesses see Europe as an attractive and valuable technology market to innovate and invest," said EPO President Antonio Campinos.

Overall, the most patent applications came from the United States, which filed over 40,000 applications in Europe last year.

Almost half of the EPO's applications came from European companies while Asian companies filed less than a quarter, with the combined share of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea accounting for 22.6 percent of all patent applications.

The technical field with the most patent applications filed at the EPO was medical technology, which includes anything from syringes to artificial limbs. Digital communication and computer technology followed in second and third place respectively.

Siemens was the top patent applicant in the EPO ranking, filing almost 2,500 applications last year. The company said more than a quarter of the patents it filed in 2018 were in the areas of industry and digitization.

"The ranking proves that Siemens consistently and constantly delivers outstanding innovation work, especially in digitization technologies. However, our focus is not only on the number, but also on the quality and broad regional positioning of our intellectual property rights," said Beat Weibel, head of the patent department at Siemens.

Speaking to Xinhua on Tuesday, a Siemens spokesperson added that one of the "most exciting" inventions at Siemens was a special structure for windows to reduce their shielding effect and enhance cell phone reception. The invention was introduced on the major train line connecting the core route of Germany's Ruhr area and the central Rhineland at the end of 2018.

The EPO's annual report showed that Germany was Europe's top patent filing country, applying for 26,734 patents last year, around 1,200 more than in 2017. This growth, Germany's fastest since 2010, "was mainly due to an upward trend in the automotive sector and related areas, such as sensors and other measuring devices," said the EPO.

According to a recent study conducted by the patent office, self-driving vehicle (SDV) technologies were the fastest growing field of new patent applications. The study found that European patent applications related to autonomous driving grew 20 times faster than for other technologies between 2011 and 2017.

Granting exclusive rights to innovative technologies and inventions is the EPO's main task. Since registering the first European patent in 1978, the EPO has registered more than 3.4 million patent applications. Enditem

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