Patent applications on the rise

The European Patent Office (EPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have both recently published patent filing figures for 2018. Here’s a snapshot of what they reveal:

During 2018, patent applications at the EPO grew at a faster rate than the previous three years, up 4.6% from 166,594 to 174,317.

  • Globally, the US continues to be in pole position as the most prolific applicant.
  • However, South Korea has shown the largest growth among the most active filing nations, increasing their European patent applications by 13% during 2018.


Germany is leading the way in Europe as the largest applicant nation, by a significant margin. Thanks to significant growth in applications, Sweden and Denmark have secured the seventh and eight positions respectively. While there was a 7.1% uplift in filings from Sweden, Denmark - a country known for its IP-centric government policy - saw the most significant growth of any European country, with 14.4% more filings.

When looking at the number of applications in relation to a nation’s population, Sweden and Denmark are, in fact, leading the way in Europe, filing more patent applications per million inhabitants that Germany did in 2018.


International filings - known as PCT applications - have also increased. Estimated figures from the WIPO for 2018, which will be finalised later in the year, suggest growth in applications of 3.9% to 253,000.

  • The US has filed the most PCT applications - 56,142
  • However, China is close behind with 53,345 applications and an estimated growth of 9.1%
  • Denmark and Sweden also saw growth in their PCT applications, but this time it is a Swedish surge, with an uplift of 4.7%, while the Danes saw more modest gains of 0.9%
  • The UK also put in a solid performance, with an increase of 1.3% in 2018