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More inventions filed by German companies

Statistics

Annual figures for 2023: Increase in the number of patent applications at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office – DPMA President: Encouraging sign at an economically difficult time – Boom in certain digital technologies and electric mobility – Trade mark applications back on the rise, too

Press release of 5 March 2024

Munich. German companies filed considerably more inventions with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) in 2023 than in the previous year. The DPMA received 38,469 domestic patent applications, an increase of 3.4% compared to 2022. The number of applications from abroad was 20,187 and thus slightly higher than in the previous year. In total, companies, research institutions and independent inventors filed patents for 58,656 inventions, representing an increase of 2.5% compared to the previous year. “It is an encouraging sign at an economically difficult time to see that there is a considerable increase in the innovation activity of German companies,” DPMA President Eva Schewior said. “Protected innovations,” she added, “strengthen the international competitiveness of companies and are a driving force for wealth and progress in our society.” With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the number of patent applications began to decline for several years in a row, especially with respect to patent activities from Germany. This trend seems to have ceased.

Current statistics

Here you can find the current DPMA statistics 2023.

In addition to patent applications, there was also an increase in the number of valid requests for examination, another important indicator for innovative capacity. At the DPMA, applicants have seven years to file a request for examination for their patent application and thus to have the examination procedure started in order to obtain a patent for the invention concerned. Last year, 43,808 requests for examination were validly filed with the DPMA (+2.2%).

Statistics 2023 overview

Statistics 2023 overview

There was also a rise in utility model figures: Last year, 9,709 applications were received, i.e. 2.5% more than in 2022. The increase was due to the higher demand from abroad, especially from China. Just as patents, utility models protect technological inventions. Unlike patents, though, utility models are not examined for novelty and inventive step prior to registration.

Moreover, there was an increase in national and international trade mark applications at the DPMA, as 78,695 trade marks were newly filed last year, up 1.6% from 2022. At a total of 3,774 (-1.5%), there was a slight decline in design applications. A design application can contain up to 100 individual designs. It is remarkable that the applications in 2023 combined fewer designs than in the previous year (28,934 designs, -14.4%).

Digitisation spurs innovation – considerable growth in battery technology

Patents 2023

Patents 2023

As for patents, several technology trends of the past years continued: A particularly strong increase in applications was seen in the “Electricity” sector (+6.1%). There was also a considerable increase in the “Instruments” sector, especially in the fields “Measurement” and “Analysis of biological substances”, “Optics” and “Control or regulation”. A slight increase was also seen in applications in the “Mechanical engineering” sector. By contrast, there was once again a decline in the “Chemistry” sector and in applications in the “Building” field.

Overall, the “Mechanical engineering” sector still accounted for most applications, as 40% of the inventions filed with the DPMA in 2023 were attributable to it. The “Electricity” sector had made up much ground and accounted for 30.1% of all patent applications. Five years ago, the share of mechanical engineering applications was 46.1%, whereas only 23.6% of all applications were attributed to the “Electricity” sector. One reason for this development arguably lies in digitisation and the related technologies, e.g. artificial intelligence. Last year, the technology field “Semiconductors” saw a particularly considerable increase (+16.6%).

With an increase in application numbers by 9.9% in 2023, the technology field “Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy” was another significant driving force for the development of the “Electricity” sector, with a particularly strong boom in battery technology. The growth of the relevant subclass H01M of the International Patent Classification (IPC) alone was almost 20% in 2023.

German carmakers are becoming more and more active in developing batteries

Utility models 2023

Utility models 2023

If we take a look at the applicants in this field, it becomes clear that the strong innovative activity was mainly based on the fast pace of the development of electric mobility. The top companies in terms of applications were carmakers and suppliers. In addition to the traditional IPC classes, subclass H01M, which covers battery technology, was among the top three fields of application of all major German carmakers.

The trend in innovation was towards electric mobility. By contrast, there was once again a significant decrease with regard to internal combustion engines: In 2023, the number of inventions received in the technology field “Engines, pumps, turbines” was 4.6% lower than in the previous year. In other technology fields of mechanical engineering, too, the DPMA saw considerable decreases, e.g. in the traditionally strong “Engineering elements” field (-6.8%), which covers hydraulic or pneumatic actuators, shafts, joints and bearings and tubes and vessels for storing gases or liquids. In the technology field “Transport”, however, which had been the strongest technology field for years, the number of applications increased again (+2.5%). A total of 10,618 patent applications was received in this field.

“The technological turning point in mobility is an important factor for the change in innovation activity as a whole,” DPMA President Eva Schewior said. “The battery,” she added, “now takes the role the internal combustion engine once had: The trend in application numbers shows that German carmakers have adapted to this change.”

In addition to the main technology trends, there were also developments in fields of innovation that draw less public attention: For example, patent applications in the technical classes for domestic washing or cleaning (A47L) and kitchen equipment (A47J) each increased by approximately a quarter to 285 and 209, respectively.

Patent statistics: Baden-Württemberg far ahead of Bavaria

Trade marks 2023

Trade marks 2023

The automotive industry was still of vital importance to Germany’s innovative capacity. The ten top companies in terms of applications at the DPMA are all carmakers or suppliers. As in previous years, Robert Bosch GmbH came in first with 4,160 patent applications in 2023, followed by Mercedes-Benz Group AG (2,046) and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (1,963).

Every year, the DPMA prepares a ranking of the German Länder too. In this ranking, Baden-Württemberg, with 14,648 patent applications (9% more than in the previous year), took the lead. Bavaria came in second with 10,805 applications (+2.4%), followed by North Rhine-Westphalia with 5,527 applications (+4.4%). If the number of applications is compared to the respective population, the ranking is slightly different. With 130 patent applications per 100,000 population, Baden-Württemberg was ahead of Bavaria (81) in this ranking too. Third place, though, went to Lower Saxony (35).

As regards trade mark applications, too, the German Länder mentioned above took the first three places, but in reverse order: With 20,392 applications, North Rhine-Westphalia came in first, followed by Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg with 11,183 and 8,336 applications, respectively. If the number of trade mark applications is compared to 100,000 population, Hamburg led the ranking with 169 applications, ahead of Berlin (127) and North Rhine-Westphalia. Most trade mark registrations last year were accounted for by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (108), Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH (94) and Brillux GmbH & Co. KG (43).

The filing trends in the trade mark area were largely consistent with the previous years. The following were the most frequently requested classes of goods and services: class 35 (“Advertising; business management, organization and administration; office functions”), which was indicated in 24,088 applications, followed by class 41 (“Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities”), indicated in 18,386 applications, and class 9 (“Electronic apparatus and instruments; computer hardware; software; optical devices”), indicated in 14,195 applications.

Procedures concluded

Designs 2023

Designs 2023

The number of procedures concluded in the patent area fell by 6.3% compared to the previous year. One reason for this is that, compared to the previous year, there was a 9.7% decrease in withdrawals by declaration or by failure to pay annual fees to 11,393. In this way, during the past pandemic years, many applicants had abandoned applications they deemed dispensable, thus adjusting their portfolio. It appears that these portfolio adjustments were completed in 2023.

Last year, the trade mark area also saw a decrease in procedures concluded, namely to 70,732 (-5.8%), just like the utility model area (-5.4%). In the design area, the number of procedures concluded significantly increased in the previous year, resulting in a complete elimination of the backlog of pending design applications. As fewer applications were received, it was not possible to achieve these high rates of concluded procedures in 2023 again (-21.8%). Fortunately, however, the design area was able to significantly reduce the duration of design registration procedures compared to the previous years.

Budget: DPMA achieved a substantial surplus

In 2023, the DPMA closed with a surplus of 216.3 million euros (-8.4%), which will benefit the federal budget. Compared to the previous year, the income of 481.8 million euros, almost entirely generated from fees, was slightly above the previous year’s figure. Expenditure amounted to 265.5 million euros (+9%).

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office

Inventiveness and creativity need effective protection. The DPMA is the German centre of expertise for all intellectual property rights – patents, utility models, trade marks and designs. As the largest national patent office in Europe and the fifth largest national patent office in the world, our office stands for the future of Germany as a country of inventors in a globalised economy. Its staff of just under 2,800 at three locations – Munich, Jena and Berlin – provide services to inventors and companies. They implement federal innovation strategies and develop the national, European and international protection systems.

Pictures: iStock.com/goir

Last updated: 18 March 2024