ERI Facts and figures

EPO patent applications in 2020

According to the European Patent Office (EPO), it is unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect patent filing activity in the medium and long term. In any case, despite the pandemic, the number of European patent applications in 2020 almost reached the level of the previous record year 2019.


Source: European Patent Office 2021
The thematic classification of newly filed patents shows medical technology at the top, followed by ‘digital communication’ and ‘computer technology’, with the latter also subsuming inventions relating to artificial intelligence. Compared to 2019, the largest increases in patent activity can be seen in pharmaceuticals (+10.2% compared to 2019) and biotechnology (+6.3%). In contrast, the number of patent applications filed fell most significantly in the transport segment (-5.5%).


Source: European Patent Office 2021
Across all fields, Switzerland accounted for 5% of all patent applications filed with the EPO, which gives it a very good seventh-place ranking in the country comparison. Switzerland is the third strongest European country in the 2020 EPO ranking after Germany (second behind the USA and ahead of Japan) and France (fifth).

Further information

Sylvie Rochat, SERI
Scientific Advisor, Strategic Management of ERI