Rolls-Royce innovation soars with most patents filed in 2015

Posted on 10 Mar 2016 by Jonny Williamson

European Patent Office data shows an increase in innovation activity in the UK, up 5.7% in 2015 to more than 5,000 applications.

The number of patents filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) by companies in the UK rose by the fastest rate of growth since 2010, indicating a strong commitment to investing in research and development.

The UK now accounts for 3% of all applications made to the EPO, a small increase on the previous year.

Overall, there was a strong rise in total filings at the EPO last year, up 4.8% to a record high of 160,000.

The strongest growth came from China and the US, up 22% and 16% on the previous year respectively.

Rolls Royce was the top filer in the UK; filing 540 patent applications at the EPO in 2015, up from 182 in the previous year.

In second and third places were Unilever (247 applications) and BAE Systems (242 applications).

Karl Barnfather, chairman, Withers & Rogers.
Karl Barnfather, chairman, Withers & Rogers.

Karl Barnfather, chairman at the intellectual property firm Withers & Rogers, commented: “2015 saw a marked increase in patent filing behaviour across industry sectors; indicating restored confidence and a real sense that British businesses are equipping themselves to compete in global markets.

“It is particularly good to see that the UK has increased its total share of patents filed at the EPO, which is no mean feat at a time when filing activity has increased almost everywhere.

“This may well be due to the tax relief offered by Patent Box, which is creating a powerful incentive to invest in innovation.

Barnfather continued: “Looking ahead, uncertainty surrounding the UK’s membership of the EU is unlikely to alter innovation behaviour.

“Companies here and around the world recognise the benefit of being able to obtain pan-European patent protection via the EPO ahead of launching their products and services to the European marketplace. This will not change.”