Another area where the “next world”, which was to emerge after the pandemic and the awareness of Europe’s vulnerability to China, will have fizzled: that of innovation and patent filings . After a slight decline in 2020, the European Patent Office, the European public institution which protects inventions in 44 countries, representing 700 million people, received a historically high number of applications. No less than 188,600 patent applications were filed in 2021, a figure up 4.5% compared to the previous year. A figure largely driven by the digital communication, medical technology and IT sectors.
These patent applications mainly come from five countries: the United States, Germany, Japan, China and France. But, noteworthy, China is making a meteoric rise in this ranking. It represents 9% of deposits, a share that has quadrupled over the past ten years. And, between 2020 and 2021, the number of files filed by Chinese companies with the EPO increased by 24%, compared with the more moderate increase, of only 5.2%, of files from American companies.
France in retreat
The Chinese Huawei remains, as in 2019, the company with the highest number of requests, followed by the Koreans Samsung (already in the lead in 2020) and LG. The first European company ranks fourth: it is the Swedish company Ericsson. “In relative terms, the share of patents from European countries continues to decline, notes the EPO, rising from 50% of the total in 2013 to 44% in 2021.”
In this ranking, France is a little behind. The number of applications from French companies fell by 0.7% in 2021, to 10,537 applications, two times less than Germany, the leading European country with 25,969 applications filed. In 2020, recalls the EPO, “ French innovation was an exception in the face of the slowdown in many European countries, with a 3.7% increase in demand “. For France, the first applicant is the specialist in aircraft engines Safran, ahead of the Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA) and the automotive supplier Valeo.