Business in the UK have maintained their share of total European patent applications, despite an overall increase in the total number of fillings made to the European Patent Office (EPO).
According to leading European intellectual property (IP) firm, Withers & Rogers, the total number of patent fillings to the EPO grew by 6.2% in 2016.
The overall number of applications for UK patents in 2016 rose by 1.8% to 5,142, building on the significant growth in activity reported in 2015 (when the number of applications submitted by UK-based businesses rose by 5.7%).
As such, the UK still accounts for 3% of all applications made to the EPO – the same share as last year.
Unilever was the top filer UK patents, filing 441 patent applications at the EPO in 2016 – up from 247 in the previous year. Rolls-Royce was the second biggest UK filer, with 372 filings – slightly fewer than in the previous year.
Chairman at Withers & Rogers, Karl Barnfather commented: “UK businesses are holding their own when it comes to their investment in innovation and this is especially good news at a time of considerable economic and geopolitical uncertainty.
“It is important, as Britain prepares to submit Article 50, that businesses remain focused on innovation and we avoid falling behind in key areas such as medical technology, computing and electrical machinery.
“The government’s Industrial Strategy has promised to invest in some important areas of R&D, which are set to become economic differentiators in the future – areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence and 5G. It is important that Britain is at the forefront of this critical phase of innovation activity.
“Much has been done in recent years to convince businesses of all sizes that investment in intellectual property protection is vital to their commercial futures. Patent Box has been well received and it is hoped that with some key simplifications it could be developed further to bring benefits for even more businesses in the post-Brexit era.”