More patent applications at the EPO, fewer at the GPTO

The European Patent Office (EPO) again recorded an increase in the number of patent applications. In 2021, a total amount of 188,600 new applications were filed, 4.5% more than in 2020. Apart from 2020 (-0.6%), there has been a yearly increase of over 4% since 2017. The USA ranked the first place 46,533 for applications filed, followed by Germany in the second place with 25,969 applications filed in 2021. Particularly noteworthy is the 24% increase from China compared to 2020. Since 2015 the number of Chinese applications increased by +190.9%.

At the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO), the number of new patent applications is rather declining. In 2021, there were 58,568 new applications filed, 5.7% fewer than in 2020, marking a renewed decline from the previous year. From 2017 to 2019, there were still over 67,000 new applications each year. At least it is encouraging that the number of completed examination procedures at the DPMA increased and 21,113 patents were granted. This speaks well for the work of the GPTO.

Undoubtedly, the reasons for these opposing trends are complex and the period observed is short. However, if a comparison is drawn, it appears that German applicants in particular are acting rather cautiously, which can be seen on the one hand from the hardly changed number of new European applications from Germany and the declining number of applications at the GPTO. Uncertainty about the Corona pandemic may also be a contributing factor. Nevertheless, Germany as a business location should be careful not to neglect intellectual property. Whether many European and German companies have succeeded in increasing the number of new applications in China and other future markets by 190.9% since 2015 remains an open question at this point. What seems certain is that in increasingly complicated times and a more interconnected world, the quote from former GPTO President Erich Otto Häußer remains valid: "Wer nicht erfindet, verschwindet. Wer nicht patentiert, verliert." Under the loss of the rhymes this might be translated to: "Whoever does not invent, disappears. Whoever does not patent, loses."

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