The European Patent Office (EPO) recently published its Annual Report 2018.
The main statistics and trends are highlighted below.
European patent applications continued to grow in 2018, reaching 174 317 applications, that is +4.6% with respect to last year.
Large enterprises filed 71% of the last year´s patent applications, SMEs, individual inventors: 20% and universities and public research organizations: 9%.
127 625 patents were granted last year (+20.8% with respect to 2017), 45% of them were granted to EPO member states, US: 24%, Japan: 17%, Korea: 5% and China: 4%.
The opposition rate in 2018 was 3.2%; the decisions in opposition cases were as follows: patent revoked: 27%, patent maintained in amended form: 42% and patent maintained as granted: 31%.
The top 10 countries with the most European patent applications in 2018 were the following:
- US 43 612 (25%)
- Germany 26 734 (15%)
- Japan 22 615 (13%)
- France 10 317 (6%)
- China 9 401 (5%)
- Switzerland 7 927 (5%)
- Korea 7 296 (4%)
- Netherlands 7 140 (4%)
- Great Britain 5 736 (3%)
- Italy 4 399 (3%)
The top 20 applicants in 2018 were the following:
- Siemens 2493
- Huawei 2485
New Referral to EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal to Decide on the Patentability of Computer Simulations
On 28 February 2019, in its decision T0489/14 (Title of the invention: Simulation of the movement of an autonomous entity through an environment, Applicant: Connor, James Douglas) the EPO’s Technical Board of Appeal (TBA) 3.5.07 (Chairman: R. Moufang) referred three questions relating to computer simulations to the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA).
The case concerns a simulation run on a computer, and the questions relate to the extent to which such a simulation can be considered to be based on technical principles.
The following questions were referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal for decision:
- In the assessment of inventive step, can the computer-implemented simulation of a technical system or process solve a technical problem by producing a technical effect which goes beyond the simulation’s implementation on a computer, if the computer-implemented simulation is claimed as such?
- If the answer to the first question is yes, what are the relevant criteria for assessing whether a computer-implemented simulation claimed as such solves a technical problem? In particular, is it a sufficient condition that the simulation is based, at least in part, on technical principles underlying the simulated system or process?
European Patent Office (EPO) – Board of Appeal Decision in case T 1063/18 on the Patentability of Plants
Case T 1063/18 concerns the appeal by the applicant against the decision of the examining division to refuse European patent application no. 12 756 468.0 (publication no. EP 2 753 168: “New pepper plants and fruits with improved nutritional value”, Applicant: Syngenta Participations AG) for the sole reason that the claimed subject-matter falls within the exception to patentability according to Article 53(b) and Rule 28(2) EPC (plants exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process).
At the oral proceedings, which took place on 5 December 2018, Technical Board of Appeal 3304, in an enlarged composition consisting of three technically and two legally qualified members, held that Rule 28(2) EPC (see Office Journal 2017, A56) is in conflict with Article 53(b) EPC as interpreted by the Enlarged Board of Appeal in decisions G 2/12 (“Method for breeding tomatoes having reduced water content and product of the method, Patent Proprietor: State of Israel, Ministry of Agriculture, the so called “Tomatoes II” case) and G 2/13 (“Method for selective increase of the anticarcinogenic glucosinolates in Brassica species”, Patent Proprietor: Plant Bioscience Limited, the so called “Broccoli II” case).
The Board referred to Article …Read More
On November 6th 2018, the European Patent Office (EPO) in cooperation with the European Council for Automotive Research and Development (EUCAR) released the study “Patents and self-driving vehicles”. The key findings of said study are summarized below:
The patent applications on SDV have been divided into two main technology sectors:
Automated vehicle platform, which encompasses technologies that are embodied in the vehicle itself. It includes inventions that enable vehicles to make autonomous decisions (Perception, analysis and decisions), inventions in the automated parts of the vehicle (Vehicle handling), and inventions in the underlying hardware and software (Computing).
Smart environment, which comprises technologies that enable SDVs to interact with each other and with their surroundings. It includes inventions in vehicle connectivity and related communication infrastructure (Communication) and inventions in traffic management, vehicle identification, automated parking and interfaces between vehicles and the electricity grid (Smart logistics).
The EPO´s study mentions that over the past decade, the EPO has received around 18,000 patent applications relating to SDV technologies, almost 4.000 of them in 2017 alone.
Annual patent applications relating to SDVs increased by 330% compared with 2011, a growth rate that is more than 20 times faster …Read More
by Moeller IP Advisors
On February 5, 2018, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the National Institute of Industrial Property of Argentina (INPI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the introduction of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) by INPI. The MoU was signed during a meeting held between EPO President Benoît Battistelli and Argentina’s Commerce Secretary Miguel Braun in Buenos Aires to discuss recent developments in patents and innovation and the cooperation between the two regions in this field. According to the MoU, INPI will start classifying its publications with the CPC by January 2019.
The CPC, which was launched by the EPO and the USPTO in January 2013, is now considered the new global standard for refined patent classification. It is already in use, or will soon be used, by 26 patent offices around the world. Argentina has joined other Latin American countries, including Mexico, Brazil and Chile, in the adoption of the CPC.
At the meeting, progress was discussed on other joint projects laid out in a MoU on bilateral co-operation signed by the EPO and INPI in May 2017. This agreement covers areas such as access to information, sharing data and tools, improved patent procedures, and …Read More