Patents in Europe: China becomes a heavyweight

Patents in Europe China becomes a heavyweight

She is not yet on the podium but it will be soon. In 2022, China is the fourth country having filed the most patents in Europe (19,041). According the annual barometer of the European Patent Office (EPO) unveiled on March 28, the Middle Kingdom is currently behind the United States (No. 1), Germany (No. 2) and Japan (No. 3). But the number of patents that China has applied for in Europe is increasing sharply: in 2022 alone, it jumped by more than 15% and over the past five years, it has more than doubled.

The Chinese flagship Huawei offers itself, in passing, a victory in the form of revenge in the prize list of the EPO. Rising star of telecoms and smartphones in the world, the group has seen Europeans distance themselves from it since the United States placed it on a blacklist and cut off access to their technologies.

In 2022, however, Huawei retains its first place in the ranking of the main patent applicants, well ahead of the Koreans LG and Samsung (2nd and 4th), the American Qualcomm (3rd), and the Europeans Ericsson and Siemens (5th and 6th). “Questions hovered over the evolution of this group. The answer is clear: it remains a leader in R&D and continues to innovate strongly. Faced with American sanctions, it is also diversifying into green technologies in order to attack new markets”, observes Yann Ménière, the chief economist of the European Patent Office.

France, fifth applicant for patents in Europe

Unsurprisingly, in 2022, the United States easily retains its crown in the ranking of countries requesting the most patents in Europe (48,088). Behind them is Germany with 24,684 applications. The reflection of the weight of the country’s economy and the important place occupied by industry, a sector which has historically filed many patents. “This is also due to the rich fabric of Mittelstandthese German companies which are often medium-sized, occupy international niches and innovate a lot”, analyzes Yann Ménière.

France is 5th in the ranking with 10,900 patent applications in Europe. A satisfactory performance, especially as it is on the rise (+1.9% compared to 2021) unlike that of neighboring Germany (-4.7%). Patent applications are drawn here by large groups and research organizations with Valeo at the top of the podium, Safran in second place and the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) on the third step.