Innovation is all around us. Wherever you look there will be innovative technology. However, some innovations are more outstanding than others. Offshore wind turbines, and their onshore cousins, are a great example of this. Yes the basic premise isn't new, as windmills have been utilising the power of the wind for centuries, with horizontal or panemone windmills first appearing in Persia during the 9th century, and vertical windmills first appearing in North Western Europe in the 12th century. However, the efficiency, strength and power outputs of these devices can be, and have been, refined over the years to produce the powerhouses of today. Indeed, some of the largest offshore wind turbines are now truly gargantuan: In September, the Goldwind GWH252-16MW - with a 252m diameter sweep, produced 384.1 MWh in 24 hours, as it was able to remain operational during a nearby typhoon! That kind of output can power 170,000 homes, or can provide enough power for an electric car to travel about 2.2 million kilometres!

Protecting the development of these alternative power sources remains critically important for securing the necessary investment - both for continuing R&D and for building the many thousands of installations required around the world to enable these machines, in conjunction with other technologies, to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels. Most commonly that protection is by way of patents.

The EPO recently published a report on patent protection secured in this industry. This report shows that 17000 patent families were published between 2002 and 2022. 52% of these came from China, with other countries all filing significantly lower volumes - The Republic of Korea - 6%, Germany 5%, Japan 5%, the US 4%...

From these patent families, the majority feature one or more grants, and most of them remain in force in at least one country. It is also noted that more applications have been filed in recent years than ever before. It is therefore clear that this is still an area of significant global interest and investment, and it remains an area with significant room for further investment and development.

Marks & Clark have in-depth experience in this sector around the world, and would be delighted to talk to you about your own innovations in this sector to see how best to protect them.

About 17 000 offshore wind energy patent families were published between 2002 and 2022, at an average annual increase of 18%. While growth stagnated between 2014 and 2017, recent years have seen a sharp increase in filings.

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