Patents and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: the inventions behind digital transformation
“Patents and the Fourth Industrial Revolution” is a study which focuses on the technologies related to autonomous objects. Its aim is to provide decision-makers in both the public and private sectors with information about the high-tech drivers and innovation trends behind this revolution.
It draws on the latest information available in patent documents and the technical expertise of the EPO’s patent examiners.
Patents, trade and foreign direct investment in the European Union
This study evaluates the impact of Europe’s patent system on the circulation of new technologies through trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Single Market. The analysis focuses on innovative manufacturing industries - analytical instruments, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals, information and communication technologies, medical devices and production technologies - that make intensive use of intellectual property rights.
The study finds that patent protection is needed to support trade and FDI in these industries. However, the potential of patents is not being fully utilised in the EU due to the fragmentation of the current patent system (with its so-called “bundle of national rights” post-grant). The forthcoming Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court will go some way towards addressing these issues.
EPO SME case study series
In co-operation with the European Patent Academy, the Chief Economist Unit has put together 12 case studies which show how Europe's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are successfully using patents for their business. The selected SMEs come from a number of different European regions. They operate in a broad variety of industries and apply diverse business models. Each study describes the company's business model and showcases how it is supported by its IP strategy and IP management.
- Download all case studies (PDF, 2 MB)
The case studies provide key take-home messages for SMEs planning to develop or improve their IP management capabilities. The experience and good practices they describe can be used by SMEs to support their development and growth. For each case study, dedicated training material will be made available which can be downloaded and used on a stand-alone basis.
- SME case studies web section
Development and deployment of CCMTs
In 2017 in co-operation with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the EPO has produced a policy brief to provide evidence on the latest trends in climate change mitigation technologies (CCMT) innovation and dissemination with a focus on renewable energy technologies, showing that patents support deployment. The main findings are as follows:
- The number and commercial value of CCMT inventions are growing globally
- Most innovation takes place in the energy sector, with renewables driving the growth
- The integration of ICTs into renewable energy technologies remains a key challenge
- Climate policy is a main driver of innovation in CCMTs
- Inventive activity in CCMTs is mainly concentrated in a few regions of the world but diversity of inventor countries is growing
- Patents support the deployment of CCMTs
- Download Policy Brief (PDF, 2.8 MB)
Intellectual property rights intensive industries and economic performance in the European Union – industry-level analysis reports
Produced jointly by the EPO and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), these studies analyse the contribution made by IPR-intensive sectors to the EU economy. They cover all major IP rights: patents, trade marks, designs, copyrights and geographical indications, with plant varieties added in 2016. They identify which industries make above-average use of those IP rights and quantify the contribution of these IPR-intensive industries to major macro‑economic variables (employment, gross domestic product, wages and trade) at EU level.
The studies provide comprehensive and robust data, as well as a solid evidence base for policymakers. They are the first of their kind to link various IPR databases (including the EPO's PATSTAT database and the EUIPO's registers of EU trade marks and Community designs) with macro-economic measures and general industry-level statistics. The methodology followed is similar to that applied in equivalent studies by the USPTO, thus facilitating comparison between the US and EU economies in terms of the impact of their native IPR-intensive industries
Climate change mitigation technologies in Europe - evidence from patent and economic data
In a series of empirical studies on the role of patents in the development and dissemination of climate change mitigation technologies (CCMTs), the EPO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a new empirical study on CCMTs in Europe in December 2015. The study links patent trends with relevant economic data on investment, trade and technology transfer in CCMTs and provides a clear and comprehensive picture of Europe's contribution to CCMT development and dissemination.
Unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court
Independent study published in April 2014 on the economic effects of the unitary patent package to identify, quantify and understand the individual drivers behind the behaviour for applying for unitary patents and the use of the Unified Patent Court.
- Download (PDF, 2.7 MB)
Independent study published in November 2014 to provide evidence-based analysis of the impact of the potential introduction of a grace period in Europe.
- Download (PDF, 4.3 MB)
Study on the economic dimensions of the fee structure in the European Patent system, July 2010
- Download (PDF, 2.7 MB)