Despite low growth levels in the global economy in general, and in Europe in particular, the number of patent applications directed to Electrical and Electronic subject matter received by the European Patent Office showed year on year growth in 2016.

The number of applications directed to Electrical and Electronic subject matter that the European Patent Office allowed to grant also increased in the same period.

European patent applications are divided by technology into technological fields. Of the top ten technological fields (by number of applications), six showed a year on year reduction in the total number of applications relative to 2015, perhaps demonstrating that turbulent economic conditions had a suppressive effect on the number of applications filed. However, of the four technological fields which demonstrated growth, three were related to electrical and electronic technology, bucking the trend for a reduction in filings and demonstrating the relative strength and research power of companies operating in these areas.

The largest growth in filings among the top ten was in the technological field of "Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy", in which the number of filings increased by 5.1% relative to 2015. Next came "Transport" (3.6% increase) and "Computer technology" (2.9% increase). The only non-electrical technological field in the top ten to display an increase in filings, "Biotechnology", increased by 0.3% relative to 2015.

The areas of "Computer technology" and "Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy" were also third and fourth respectively in terms of the total number of applications filed, behind "Medical technology" and "Digital communication" (both of which showed slight reductions in filings relative to 2015).

The number of granted patents relating to electrical and electronic subject matter also demonstrated a dramatic increase in 2016 relative to the patents granted in 2015, with the number of relating to electrical and electronic subject matter shooting up by 42% to almost 23,000 granted patents.

Companies focussed on electrical and electronic subject matter led the way in terms of the number of filings; of the top ten companies ranked by number of filings, seven primarily operate in electrical and electronic technological areas. This includes all of the top three companies: Philips, Huawei and Samsung. From European patent statistics it is clear that, in tough economic times, electrical and electronic innovation goes from strength to strength.

All stats taken from EPO website here:

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