European Patent Office

Polish universities and companies file more patent applications at European Patent Office in 2020 despite pandemic

Patent applications filed by Polish companies, universities, and research institutes at the European Patent Office (EPO) increased by 4.3% in 2020 to a total of 483, despite the pandemic, according to the EPO Patent Index 2020 published today. The increase follows a 10.8% decrease in the previous year.

The top four technology fields with the most European patent applications from Poland remained the same as in the previous year but changed in ranking. The technology field ‘thermal processes and apparatus’ regained its No. 1 spot from pharmaceuticals and grew by 2.2%. The field accounts for 9.5% of all Polish patent applications. The next largest fields were medical technology, down by 17.4%, and pharmaceuticals (+11.8%), both with an 8% share of Polish patent applications. The transport sector decreased its number of patent applications by 3.1% and dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 position. Computer technology, which had not been part of the top 15 Polish technology fields in 2019, ranked in 6th place among the leading technologies after having grown 700% year-on-year, albeit from a small base. Other fields with the strongest growth rates, albeit from a much smaller base, were biotechnology (+200%) and ‘furniture, games’ (+220%).  

“The fact that Polish inventors filed more patent applications for inventions last year despite the pandemic is testimony to the resilience of Poland’s innovation infrastructure in which universities play an outstanding role,” said EPO President António Campinos. “That is good news because research, science and innovation, supported by a strong patent system, is more important than ever in making our world healthier and more sustainable, and in driving economic recovery.” 

Steady demand for patent protection at the EPO overall

The overall number of patent applications at the EPO filed in 2020 remained stable, decreasing by 0.7% compared with the previous year, yet with substantial shifts across technology sectors and regions. The EPO received 180 250 patent applications in total, which was slightly below the record level attained in 2019 (181 532).

China and South Korea post fast growth, fewer applications from Europe

The strongest increases from among the Top 10 filing countries came from Chinese (+9.9%) and South Korean (+9.2%) applicants. Conversely, US patent applicants, who account for a quarter of all applications at the EPO, filed 4.1% fewer applications in 2020. Patent applications from Europe were down 1.3% on the previous year, and those from Japan decreased by 1.1%.

Viewed at a European country-level, the volume of filings also diverged significantly: While applications from Germany, Europe’s biggest country of origin, dropped by 3.0% in 2020, French and Italian inventors filed 3.1% and 2.9% more applications, respectively. Sweden and Denmark reached the levels of 2019. The EPO received fewer applications from the Netherlands (-8.2%), as well as the UK (-6.8%) and Spain (-5%).

Healthcare innovations surge, transport down
Among the leading technical fields overall and across all countries, pharmaceuticals (+10.2%) and biotechnology (+6.3%) showed the biggest increases in terms of patent filings. Medical technology (+2.6%) accounted for the most inventions in 2020, retaking the top spot from digital communication, which had been the most active field in 2019. Meanwhile, transport showed the biggest drop (-5.5%).

Four of the top 5 Polish patent applicants are universities

Uniwersytet Jagiellonski (Jagiellonian University in Krakow), with 9 patent applications, took the top spot in the Polish ranking for European patent applications, followed by Adamed Pharma (8 applications), the University of Warsaw (7), Politechnika Slaska (6) and the University of Science and Technology (6).

Warsaw region generates a quarter of all Polish applications

The Warsaw region leads the Polish regional ranking at the EPO with a share of 25.1% of all European patent applications (compared to 25.7% in the previous year), ahead of Lesser Poland (21.1%), the Lower Silesian region (9.9%), and the Silesian region (6.8%). In the city ranking, Warsaw was again in the lead despite recording a 2.1% drop in applications, while the strongest growth came from Skawina (+72.4%) and Krakow (+34.4%).

For detailed statistics, see the EPO Patent Index 2020 at