The EU's capacity for innovation is constantly increasing in particular in the automobile and green technologies sectors. This is evidenced by the number of patent filings at the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2012, which beat the previous record set in 2008. Last year's filings originated from 38 member states. European filings saw a 2.3% increase on 2011 filings.

In 2012, the EPO received a total of 257,744 patent filings from all over the world. This represents a 5.2% increase over 2011 (244,934) and sets a new record. The EPO also published 65,687 granted patents, 5.8% more than in 2011 (62,115).

"The growth of filings from European businesses is a clear indication that industry here has opted to innovate its way out of the economic crisis", EPO President Benoit Battistelli said, on 6 March in Brussels, as he presented the EPO's 2012 annual results.

Geographical trends observed in filings of recent years continued with a majority still originating from non-European countries (63.5% in 2012 and 62.5% in 2011), and 36.5% coming from the 38 EPO member states (2011: 37.5%). In terms of country rankings: the US was still in the lead (24.6%), followed by Japan (20.1%), Germany (13.3%), China (7.3%), and Korea (5.6%). The steepest growth rates came from Chinese (+11.1%), Korean (+9.3%) and Japanese (+9.1%) companies. Accordingly, Asian countries accounted for more than half of total growth.

The most active European countries after Germany were France (4.7%), Switzerland (3.2%), the UK (2.6%) and the Netherlands (2.5%). Switzerland also scored well (3.2%).

When it comes to ranking by sector, European companies were leading applicants in eight of the ten most active technology fields. They were particularly dominant in transport (especially the automotive and aeronautic sectors), where over 60% of all applications came from EPO states. With shares of 50% and more, applicants from Europe also led the way in measurement technology...

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