According to a recent study by the European Patent Office, patents in the field of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Internet of Things are becoming increasingly important for applicants. In the last three years the number of patent filings has grown by more than 50%. At the top are applicants from Asia.
In December 2017, the European Patent Office (EPO), together with the Handelsblatt Research Institute, published a large-scale study on European patent applications in the field of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the Internet of Things.
The analysis of the European patent applications filed up to and including 2016 shows that the number of applications has increased rapidly since the mid-1990s. In 2016 alone, more than 5000 patent application were filed with the EPO. 4IR applications have increased by 54% over the last three years – a multiple of the total 7.65% growth in applications to the EPO for all technologies in the same period.
The study presents the most important technology trends and also looks at their implementation in a variety of new applications in practice, including some case studies. New applications (e. g. personal applications, companies, vehicles) and core technologies (connectivity, hardware and software) account for the majority of the inventions applied for. However, the highest growth rates can be observed in enabling technologies such as 3D systems, artificial intelligence and energy supply.
In terms of numbers, Europe (29%) and the USA (25%) are in the lead for 2011-2016, followed by Japan (18%). Germany is the leading European country with 8%, followed by France with 6%. In terms of individual filers, however, companies from Asia are far ahead, led by Samsung. The number of Korean and Chinese registrations is growing particularly rapidly.