European Patent Office

Patent applications from Poland at European Patent Office post one of Europe’s highest growth rates despite pandemic

Patent applications filed by Polish companies, universities, and research institutes at the European Patent Office (EPO) increased by 12.8% in 2021, four times the growth rate of the previous year (3.2%), and more than 4.5 times the EU27 average (2.7%), to a total of 539, according to the EPO Patent Index 2021 published today. It is the second highest growth rate in Europe, surpassed only by Portugal (of countries with more than 200 patent applications).

Medical technology and pharmaceuticals are Poland’s top technology fields

Medical technology became the new No. 1 technology field in Poland (up from No. 2), with patent applications growing by 71.1% compared to the previous year, followed by pharmaceuticals (+11.4%) and the transport sector (which includes the car industry), filing 81% more patent applications compared to the year before. The two healthcare technologies pharmaceuticals and medical technology combined now contribute 19.3% to Polish patent applications at the EPO, up from 15.3% in 2020.

Digital and healthcare technologies main driver of overall growth at the EPO

The European Patent Office (EPO) overall received 188 600 applications in 2021, up 4.5% after a slight decrease in 2020 (-0.7%). The number of patent applications – an early indicator of companies’ investments in research and development – increased in nine of the top ten most patent-active fields of technology. Digital communication and computer technology posted the strongest growth, demonstrating the digital transformation, followed by strong increases in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, underlining high levels of innovation in vaccines and other areas of healthcare. 

Growth of patent applications at the EPO

Chinese companies post fastest growth

The overall growth in patent applications at the EPO in 2021 was largely fuelled by filings from China (+24% over 2020) and the US (+5.2%). Patent applications from the 38 EPO countries increased (+2.8%) last year, but in relative terms, the share of applications from Europe continued to recede, falling from 50% of the total in 2013 to 44% in 2021, as more players outside Europe, and especially those from Asia, seek to protect their inventions on the European market.

Mixed trends in Europe

Europe’s top filing countries, Germany (+0.3%) and France (-0.7%), remained nearly stable, while applications from the UK saw a further slight drop (-1.2%). Several other European countries returned to growth in 2021, with patent filings increasing significantly also from Sweden (+12.0%), Finland (+11.2%), Denmark (+9.2%), Spain (+8.9%), Italy (+6.5%), Switzerland (+3.9%), Belgium (+3.3%) and the Netherlands (+3.1%). 

Applications from EU member states at the EPO in 2021

Asian firms lead the European applicant ranking

China’s Huawei was the leading patent applicant at the EPO in 2021 (as in 2019), followed by last year’s leader, Samsung, and LG, both from South Korea.

Top 10 applicants at the EPO with ranking change in 2021

Four of the top 10 Polish patent applicants are universities or research institutes

The Silesian University of Technology is the No. 1 Polish patent applicant (up from No. 4 the year before). Four of the top 10 Polish patent applicants are universities or research institutes, more than in most other countries. They contribute over 40% of all patent applications filed by Poland’s ten biggest patent applicants.

Warsaw region with the most Polish patent applications

The Warsaw region leads the Polish regional ranking at the EPO with a share of 24.5% of all European patent applications, ahead of Lesser Poland (16.3%), the Lower Silesian region (12.1%), and the Silesian region (10.9%).

For detailed statistics, see the EPO Patent Index 2021 at