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German Patent and Trade Mark Office more productive than ever before

Federal office completes more than 40,000 patent procedures – there is also a clear positive trend in the field of trade marks – DPMA president: recruitment drive in the patent area shows first successes

Press release of 28 February 2020

Munich. In 2019, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) completed significantly more IP procedures. In the patent area, the examiners completed 40,124 examination procedures – more than ever before. The increase over the previous year was 5.3%. The number of patents granted was 18,255 and thus even 11.5% higher than in 2018. This is the highest number of patents granted in 12 years. At 45.5%, the grant rate was slightly higher than in the previous year (43%).

The trade mark sector also presented impressive figures: 74,986 registration procedures were completed (+4.9%). A total of 55,017 procedures ended with a trade mark registration (+8.8%). This means that the registration rate was 73.4%, also slightly higher than in 2018 (70.7%).

The President of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office attributes the increased work output also to a successful major restructuring of the Directorate General Patents and Utility Models. "Obviously, our structural measures are taking effect. We find that foresighted planning and management control and the impressive openness of our staff towards target-oriented changes pay off," said DPMA President Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer. In 2019, the office had established seven new patent divisions to take account of new technological trends and to balance the different workloads. Despite the increasing number of concluded procedures, the DPMA would maintain its high examination standards, the President emphasised. "The sustained high quality of IP rights is one of our key strategic issues and remains our top priority!"

Greatest number of trade mark applications since 2008 – patent applications at a high level

Current statistics

Here you will find the DPMA statistics 2019 and current infographics.

Last year, national trade mark applications amounted to 78,829, the highest figure in eleven years and 4.6% higher than in 2018. At the end of the year, 830,319 trade marks were in force, slightly more than the year before (+1.8%). At 67,437 (-0.7%), patent applications remained at the very high level of the previous year. The total number of patents in force at the end of the year was 131,999 (+1.9%). “The high number of applications shows that Germany continues to be attractive as a location for innovation and that German IP rights are very much sought after,” said DPMA President Rudloff-Schäffer, emphasising the importance of IP rights: “Industrial property rights are a fundamental component of the economic ecosystem and demonstrably serve to create sustainable value. Companies that hold many IP rights achieve a higher turnover than others, pay higher salaries and create more sustainable jobs.“

It is striking that almost 40% of foreign trade mark applications now come from China. In 2019, Chinese companies filed more applications (2,098) than applicants from all European countries combined. For utility models, the figures from China also rose significantly (+16.3%). With 720 applications, China clearly overtook the USA (417) as the most active foreign applicant.

Comparison of the federal Länder: Baden-Württemberg takes over from Bavaria at the top

In the past year, there was a change at the top of the ranking of the German Länder in terms of patent applications: In 2019, in contrast to previous years, the list was not headed by Bavaria but by Baden-Württemberg. Last year, 15,230 applications were received from there (+4.4%), while only 14,064 applications (-5.7%) came from Bavaria. As in 2018, they were followed, by a large margin, by North Rhine-Westphalia, which ranked third with 7,022 applications (+2.6%). There was particularly strong growth in Lower Saxony, which registered 3,847 applications (+6.6%). Over the past ten years, the number of applications from this federal Land rose by a total of 32.2%. If we compare the number of applications in relation to the respective population size, Baden-Württemberg (138 applications per 100,000 inhabitants) and Bavaria (108) are also leading. Lower Saxony (48) follows in third place.

In the trade mark area, North Rhine-Westphalia ranked first again with 15,557 applications (+6.8%), followed by Bavaria (12,291) and Baden-Württemberg (8,537). In the ranking per 100,000 inhabitants, Hamburg comes top with 187, followed by Berlin (150) and Bavaria (94).

For the first time all top ten applicants come from the automotive industry

As in previous years, "transport" with 12,836 applications ranks first among the technology fields with the highest number of applications. It includes a large proportion of applications from the automotive industry. The technology field once again grew (+3.2%) and now accounts for 19% of the total number of applications. The large role which the automotive industry plays in the field of innovation was again reflected in the top ranking of applicants in 2019. For the first time, all top ten companies were car manufacturers or suppliers to the automotive industry.

With 7,160 applications (-4.2%), the technology field "Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy" ranked second, followed by "Mechanical elements" with 5,390 applications (-8.4%). For some years now, we have been observing an increasing shift in the number of applications towards the electrical engineering sector. Now, this sector accounts for almost one in four applications (23.8%). Ten years ago the figure was only 19%. Last year, the main drivers of this development included the technology fields “semiconductors” (+9.0%), “audio-visual technology” (+7.6%) and “computer technology” (+2.0%), which covers many software-based inventions including applications of what is known as artificial intelligence.

With 4,202 applications, Robert Bosch GmbH again ranked first among the most active patent applicants in 2019, followed by Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG (2,385). Bayerische Motoren Werke AG ranked third (1,773).

The car manufacturer from Munich even took the lead in the top list of trade marks with 94 registrations, ahead of Merck KGaA (84 registrations) and HARIBO Holding GmbH & Co. KG (78 registrations).

Utility model and design: figures continue to decline

In 2019, the DPMA again recorded a decline in the number of applications for utility models and designs – although the decline was not as strong as in the previous year. The number of utility model applications was 11,668 (-5.2%). Furthermore, applications containing a total of 42,603 individual designs were received (-3.3%).

Another strong budget surplus

In 2019, the DPMA closed with a surplus of 199.4 million euros, which will benefit the federal budget. The income, almost entirely from fees, increased by 3.5% to 425.9 million euros compared to the previous year. Expenditure amounted to 226.5 million euros (+1.5%).

Attractive employer – successful recruitment drive

At the end of 2019, 2,747 staff were employed at the DPMA locations in Munich, Jena, Berlin and Hauzenberg. The DPMA had an even gender balance among its staff (women: 48% and men: 52%). Women accounted for about one third of the senior executive management.

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office is an attractive employer with flexible part-time work schemes and attendance models. Last year, the DPMA set up the 1,000th telework site. By the end of 2019, 1,045 staff members were already using the opportunity to work part of the workweek from home. By the end of this year, 1,200 staff will be working from home.

In 2019, a particular success was the recruitment campaign to fill the 177 additional patent examiner posts that had been approved for the DPMA by the German Bundestag in the 2018 and 2019 budgets. The office succeeded in filling all posts with highly qualified and experienced science and engineering experts. To be able to fulfil their future duties, the new colleagues are currently undergoing an 18-month training programme.

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 for inventors and companies. They implement federal innovation strategies and develop the national, European and international protection systems further.

Last updated: 23 June 2020 

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