The European Patent Office (EPO) received a record 188,600 applications in 2021. Despite the initial shock of the COVID pandemic, in more than half of all technical sectors, patent filings have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. ICT-related patent applications accounted for more than 31% of all European patent applications.
Huawei became the EPO's leading patent applicant, followed by Samsung, LG, Ericsson, and Siemens. The top ten list contains four European companies, two from South Korea, two from the United States, and one from each of China and Japan. One out of five patent applications was filed by an individual inventor or a small- to medium-sized business. Universities and public research organizations filed an additional 5% of the applications.
The highest increases were noted in computer technology, digital communication, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.
European companies filed the most applications. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Spain, and Italy all saw significant gains in the number of filed patent applications. Overall, the top five countries of origin for applications in 2021 were the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and France. The combined total submissions from China, Japan, and South Korea surpassed those from the United States for the first time.