Euroopan patenttivirasto (EPO) tiedottaa: Finnish patent applications at the European Patent Office decrease in 2018

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  • Patent applications from Finnish companies at the European Patent Office (EPO) decreased by 3.8%
  •  Decline mainly due to fewer applications in digital communicationSome sectors such as environmental technology see strong growth in patents filed
  • Nokia remains most important patent applicant from Finland
  • Finland one of the leading countries in terms of patent applications per million inhabitants
  • EPO receives over 174 000 applications in total; increase fuelled by European companies; slowed growth from China
  • EPO President António Campinos: “Despite the drop in patent applications last year, our annual results clearly show that Finland remains a highly innovative country with double-digit growth in key technologies.”

Munich, 12 March 2019 – Patent applications from Finland filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2018 decreased by 3.8% compared to the previous year, according to the EPO Annual Report published today. The figures stabilised in 2017 following a decrease in 2015 and 2016, mainly due to fewer applications in digital communication. Finland’s drop in applications related to digital communication at the EPO in 2018 (-19%) was in part compensated by double-digit growth in other key technology segments, such as environmental technology (+54%), textile and paper machines (+42%), audio-visual technology (+30%), engines, pump, turbines (+28%) and transport (+20%).

Last year Finnish companies and inventors filed 1 728 patent applications with the EPO (2017: 1 797). (Fig.: Growth of Finnish patent applications at the EPO) In contrast, patents granted to Finnish companies and researchers by the European Patent Office (EPO) again grew strongly and above the EPO average by 25.4% to a record high of 1 543 (up from 1 230 in the previous year). (Fig.: Growth of Finnish patent grants at the EPO). A patent is granted by the patent office following in-depth examination of a claimed technical invention by specialists in the respective technology to verify if all legal criteria for a patent are fulfilled. The preceding step to the granting of a patent is the submission of a patent application by a firm or an inventor to the EPO that consists of a paper file in which the inventions is set out in detail. In order to be patentable, the patent application needs to be compliant with the previsions of the patent law.

Overall, the European Patent Office received 174 317 European patent applications in 2018, an increase of 4.6% compared to 2017. (Fig.: Growth of European patent applications) The US remained the top country of origin in patent applications at the European Patent Office, accounting for 25% of total applications, followed by Germany, Japan, France, and China.(Fig.: Origin of applications)

“Despite fewer patent applications filed in 2018 Finland remains a highly innovative country with double-digit growth in several key technologies,” said EPO President António Campinos. “This is a good message for the economy: In the EU alone, industries with a high use of patents, trademarks and registered designs employ about 60 million people, accounting for 42% of its economic turnover and over 90% of its external trade. In terms of patents filed per million inhabitants, Finland comes in at high position, which underlines its strength as an economy driven by innovation.”

Top position in applications per capita ranking: Finland in sixth place

Finland was in sixth place of all countries by the number of European patent applications filed relative to the country’s population (with 312 applications per million inhabitants). The only countries ahead of Finland in that ranking were Switzerland (with 956 applications per million inhabitants), followed by the Netherlands (416), Denmark (411), Sweden (403), and Germany (332) (Fig.: Applications per mio. inhabitants)

Nokia, Kone, Stora Enso and Wärtsila emerge as top Finnish patent applicants

With 738 applications, Nokia was by far Finland’s most active patent applicant at the EPO again and ranked in 20th place of the top 50 applicants at the EPO in 2018 (down from 15th in 2017) just behind Alphabet (No. 19) and ahead of Continental (No. 21). (Fig.: Top 50 applicants in 2018) Among all companies, Nokia was the number 6 (down from 4 in the previous year) in digital communication (behind leaders Huawei, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Samsung and Sony), but ahead of LG (7) and Intel (8). In the Finnish ranking, Nokia was followed by Kone (92 applications), Stora Enso and Wärtsila (both 51), and Valmet (47). (Fig:Top applicants at the EPO in 2018 from Finland).

Helsinki-Uusimaa region filed most patent applications

The region Helsinki-Uusimaa leads the regional Finnish ranking by far, with a share of 69% of all patent applications (down from 75% in the previous year). It was also 16th strongest European region for patent applications overall at the EPO. (Fig: Leading European regions or patent applications at the EPO).

High demand for patent protection across Europe

Most European countries filed more patent applications at the EPO in 2018 than in the previous year (Fig.: Top 50 countries for applications). Besides Finland, there was also adecrease in France (-2.8%). Patent applications were up from Italy (+0.9%), the Netherlands (+1.4%), Austria (+3.8%), Germany (+4.7%), Spain (+6.3%), the UK (+7.8%), Sweden (7.1%), Switzerland (7.8%), Belgium (+9.7%), and Denmark (14.4%).

Medical technology top field – life sciences growing fast

Overall, medical technology remains the technical field in which the most patent applications are filed at the EPO (up 5% in 2018), once again followed by digital communication and computer technology. The strongest growth among the top ten fields was recorded in life sciences, with pharmaceuticals and biotechnology combined growing by 13%.

Siemens heads the list of applicants

Siemens was the top patent applicant at the EPO in 2018 with 2 493 applications (it last headed the ranking in 2011), switching positions with Huawei from China, which came in second. They were followed by Samsung and LG of the Republic of Korea, and United Technologies from the US. The top ten was made up of four companies from Europe, three from the US, two from South Korea and one from China. For detailed statistics, and a review of our activities in 2018, see the EPO's Annual Report at:

About the EPO

With nearly 7 000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching. For detailed statistics, and a review of our activities in 2017, see the EPO's Annual Report at:

Media contacts:
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Shepard Fox Communications / Netprofile
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