Lawyer Monthly - July 2022

37 JUL 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM EUROPEAN PATENTING IS BACK ON TRACK some perspective it is important to also have a look at the number of patents being granted by the EPO. There is of course a delay of a few years from filing to grant, but there are clear trends visible in the new statistics regardless. Users of the EPO are familiar with the management’s drive to increase perceived efficiency and timeliness, and the aim to reduce the backlog of cases (euphemistically called “stock” by the EPO). It seems that this ambition has led to a dramatic increase in the number of cases being granted from 2015 onwards, with examiners being encouraged to dispose of older applications more quickly. However, this activity peaked in 2019 with 137,784 European patents being granted and has dropped since then to a total of 108,799 patents being filed in 2021. Much of this could be the result of COVID-related disruptions to normal working patterns, meaning next year’s granting figures will tell us much more about how the EPO has adapted to home working for examiners. Blurring of Technical Fields Continues Medical technology has been the sector with the most applications for most of the last decade according to the EPO, with digital communications running a close second. In 2021, digital communications finally claimed the spot as the most popular technology with 15,400 applications, just 79 more thanmedical technology. Applications involving computer technology are not far behind, showing continued growth over recent years. These statistics must be seen as a rough indication, however, as innovations are becoming more interdisciplinary over time. Many applications are based on After a couple of years of disruption, patenting activity is continuing to grow as companies find new ways of tackling the problems we are facing in Europe and beyond.

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