Patent applications originating in Portugal at the European Patent Office (EPO) fell by 8.5% in 2020 to 249, this being the second highest figure on record and led by the University of Minho.
The data is contained in the 2020 Patent Index, published Tuesday, which reveals that “this decline compares with rises of 23.1% in 2019 and 47.3% in 2018”.
“Last year, Portuguese companies, research institutes and universities filed 249 patent applications with the European Patent Office – in 2019 272 were filed – which remains the highest number on record,” according to the EPO.
The University of Minho recorded the highest number of patent applications among Portuguese applicants, with 20 applications before the EPO in 2020.
This was followed by A4TEC – Association for the Advancement of Tissue Engineering and Cellular-based Technologies and Therapies with 14 patent applications, the Institute of Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science of Porto with 12 applications and also the technology company Saronikos Trading and Services and the University of Évora, both with seven applications each.
“In contrast to most European countries, the ‘top’ five Portuguese applicants include four research laboratories and academic institutions,” the EPO notes in the press release, highlighting the “relevance of European patents in protecting research and development investments made by academic institutions.”
In regional terms, the vast majority (56.2% of the total) of these Portuguese applications were made by entities or companies in the northern region, followed by Lisbon (16.1%) and the centre (15.7%).
Across Europe, the number of patent applications submitted to the EPO was down 0.7% in 2020 compared to the previous year, to a total of 180,250, slightly below the record reached in 2019 (181,532).
And in sectoral terms, the biggest rises in these patent applications were seen in healthcare innovations.
“Among the main technical areas, overall and in all countries, pharmaceuticals (+10.2%) and biotechnology (+6.3%) were the ones that grew the most in terms of patent applications, reports the EPO, also indicating that “medical technology (+2.6%) was the area that recorded the highest number of inventions in 2020”.
And similar to 2019, there was also greater growth in 2020 in applications from Chinese (+9.9%) and South Korean (+9.2%) applicants, while patent applications originating in Europe were down 1.3% on the previous year.
It was South Korean technology company Samsung that led these patent applications in Europe last year (3,276), followed by Chinese manufacturer Huawei (3,113), South Korean home appliance company LG (2,909), US ‘chip’ company Qualcomm (1,711) and Swedish telecoms company Ericsson (1,634).
Created in 1977, the EPO strengthens cooperation between European countries in the field of patents.
Through a centralised procedure, the EPO makes available patents valid in 44 countries and covering a market of 700 million people.