In a report of 12 March 2020 titled Digital technologies take top spot in European patent applications, the European Patent Office reports overall European patent applications were up by 4% in 2019 compared to 2018. Best performer in 2019 was digital communications with an almost 20% rise pushing medical technologies off the top filing technology spot for the first time since 2006.
Chinese applicants outstripped those from the USA for the first time in 2019 in the digital communications filings. The only field with reduced European patent applications filings in 2019 was organic fine chemistry. It dropped by only 0.5%.
2019 also saw a 10% rise in computer technology related European patent applications which the European Patent Office attribute to the rise in artificial intelligence (AI) related applications. The areas of machine learning and pattern recognition, image data processing and generation, and data retrieval were central to computer technology becoming the second fastest-growing field in 2019. Applicants in this field span several industries including logistics companies, automotive industry suppliers and medical firms as well as IT firms. Within the computer technology field, data retrieval, machine learning and pattern recognition, and image data processing and generation contribute strongly and many have AI at their core.
European firms, Bosch, Siemens and Philips, placed 2nd, 4th and 8th respectively in the top ten filers in machine learning and pattern recognition with respective percentage shares of 16%, 10% and 5%. It was no surprise that Alphabet headed the list with 24% of European patent application machine learning and pattern recognition filings.
In image data processing and generation, Philips topped the table with a 23% share, Siemens was joint 2nd with a 13% share with Alphabet 4th with 10%.
In data retrieval, Microsoft and Alphabet headed the top applicant list and, together with Intel and Qualcomm, resulted in US applicants filing almost 50% of all data retrieval European patent applications in 2019.
With the strong interest in AI being shown by the main intellectual property offices including the IP5 (European Patent Office, Japan Patent Office, Korean Intellectual Property Office, the China National Intellectual Property Administration and United States Patent and Trademark Office) and the application of AI to an increasing range of industries, strong growth in AI related European patent applications should continue into 2020. It is unlikely that these AI related sub-fields can push the computer technology field into the top European patent application spot over rival medical technology and digital communication fields in 2020 but by 2025, it seems plausible.
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