The patent applications of Spain before the European Patent Office (EPO) fell 5% in 2020 compared to the previous year due to the impact of the pandemic. Even so, they reached their second highest number, according to the Patent Index with 1,791 applications, below the record of 1,885 applications in 2019. “All this is motivated by a situation, like the current one, in which everything is very volatile and uncertain. There is quite an accentuated legal and social insecurity ”, assures ABC Luis Berenguer, spokesman for the EPO. “We do not know if this is something specific or temporary or is a new structural trend that breaks the seven years of sustained growth. It is a difficult time to make assessments, "he adds.
The total number of European patent applications filed in 2020 remained almost stable, as it only decreased by 0.7% compared to the previous year. The EPO received 180,250 patent applications in total, a figure that was slightly below the record level reached the previous year. Within Europe, applications from Germany fell 3% in 2020; but, on the contrary, French and Italian inventors presented 3.1% and 2.9% more of requests, respectively. Among the top 10 European countries, the Netherlands experienced the largest decline (-8.2%), followed by the United Kingdom (-6.8%). Patent applications from Sweden and Denmark reached 2019 levels, while Finland recorded growth of 11.1%.
Outside the Old Continent, the largest increases came from China (9.9%) and South Korea (9.2%). In contrast, US patent applicants, who account for a quarter of all applications in the EPO, filed 4.1% less than last year.
Leadership of the pharmaceutical sector
In Spain, the sector with the most patent applications last year was pharmaceuticals, which grew by 22.6% to 190 patent applications. Second is medical technology, which registered exactly the same number of patent applications compared to the previous year (126). The transportation ranked third with 122 requests after increasing the figure by 3.4% despite the fact that transport fell 5.5% worldwide.
However, the number of applications from Spanish companies has fallen significantly in the sector of "other special machines" (-29.2%), civil engineering (-18%) and "machinery, electrical appliances, energy" ( -17.3%).
With 72 applications (compared to 34 in 2019), the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) it re-emerged as the first patent applicant in Spain. They follow him Amadeus (60), Esteve Pharmaceuticals (17), the Tecnalia Research & Innovation Foundation (17), Telefónica (17), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (15), Pharma Mar (14), Repsol (14), Autotech Engineering (11) and ICFO-Institute of Photonic Sciences (11) and Seat (11).
By communities, Catalonia led the ranking with 559 patent applications in total, which represents a share of 31.2%. Next are the Community of Madrid (21.1%) and the Basque Country (11.9%). In the ranking of cities, Barcelona leads with 496 patent applications (-14.5%) ahead of Madrid, which scored 378 applications after increasing 4.4%.
“The areas with the most industrial development are those that tend to request the most patent registrations. The case of Catalonia is justified because the three most powerful sectors in this area in Spain - pharmaceuticals, medical technology and the automotive industry - have a significant presence in the Catalan economy. Both Esteve and Seat have their headquarters in Catalonia ”, interprets Berenguer. «Something similar happens in Madrid where public research is very present with the CSIC and other pharmaceutical laboratories. The Basque Country is also an area of very high industrial development and in the Valencia Community there are very powerful industrial companies related to toys, textiles, furniture or tiles ”, he adds.