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    EPO Unveils Patent Index 2023, Highlighting Surge in Innovations by Chinese Firms in Europe


    Source:China IP News

    Patent filings at the European Patent Office (EPO) from China reached a record high of 20,735, up 8.8% from 2022, according to the Patent Index 2023 recently released by the EPO.

    In 2023, the EPO received 199,275 patent filings from around the world, up 2.9% from 2022, according to the index. The U.S. led the way with 48,155 filings, followed by Germany with 24,966, Japan (21,520), China and the Republic of Korea (12,575). The overall growth in patent applications at the EPO in 2023 was mainly fueled by steep increases from the Republic of Korea (+21% compared with 2022) and the People's Republic of China. "Our latest Patent Index shows that innovation remained vibrant around the world in 2023. The EPO was entrusted with examining more applications than ever before, attesting to both the attractiveness of the European technology market and the high quality of our products and services," said António Campinos, President of the EPO.

    Digital communication, medical technology, and computer technology emerged as the top 3 fields with the most patent applications at the EPO last year. Digital communication saw the highest number of filings at 17,749, up 8.6% from 2022. Filings in computer technology, medical technology, and measurement saw respective increases of 1.2%, 1.3%, and 3.5%. Electrical machinery, apparatus, and energy sector experienced the most rapid growth in filings, reaching 15,304, with an increase of 12.2%. Meanwhile, the biotechnology field maintained strong patent activity, up 5.9% from 2022.

    China dominated in digital communication filings, representing 28.3% of the total, and also led in the sector of electrical machinery, apparatus, and energy. The index highlighted that digital communication, computer technology, and electrical machinery, apparatus, and energy were China's top three filing sectors, collectively accounting for 48% of China's total filings in 2023.

    In terms of applicants, Huawei was once again the leading patent applicant at the EPO with more than 5,000 filings, up 12.6%. Multiple Chinese firms ranked within the top 50 patent applicants, with ZTE and CATL securing the 16th and 18th positions through their respective 947 and 832 filings.

    "According to recent EPO patent indexes, China's patent filings predominantly target the digital technology sector, notably digital communication. These filings are on par with those of the U.S. at the EPO and significantly surpass those from European countries. However, China lags behind the U.S. and other developed nations in areas like computer technology and medical technology. This dichotomy underscores China's substantial progress in digital technology, AI, and other emerging fields within the latest scientific and technological revolution, while also highlighting a gap in R&D that needs addressing in certain technical fields. Therefore, China must vigorously develop new quality productive forces, systematically enhance the structure of science and technology, and expedite the process of becoming an IP powerhouse," said Shan Xiaoguang, Professor of the Shanghai International College of Intellectual Property, Tongji University and Vice Chairman of the China Intellectual Property Society, in an interview with China Intellectual Property News. The new wave of the scientific and technological revolution is set to intensify competition and friction in the global technology market. It is imperative for Chinese firms to not only intensify their innovation-driving forces, but also place significant emphasis on IP, particularly the nuances of international IP regulations, in preparation for the challenges of globalization, according to Shan.

    Based in Munich, Germany with branches throughout Europe, the EPO is set to boost technological innovation by lowering or waiving application fees for small enterprises, individuals, non-profits, and academic institutions starting April 2024.