Patent applications in Europe reached record high in 2021

The rate of new inventions has continued to increase with the European Patent Office (EPO) receiving 188,600 applications in 2021, a 4.5% increase on the previous year and the highest number to date. The number of patent applications –  an early indicator of companies’ investments in research and development – increased in nine of the top ten most patent-active fields of technology, with digital communication and computer technology posting the strongest growth.

Patents are indicative of modern innovation trends. In addition, they contain important technical information as applicants must describe and explain their inventions in a clear and complete way. Knowing and studying global patent data is an effective tool to avoid parallel developments and wasted R&D efforts in overcrowded research fields. By ignoring and/or undervaluing IP, businesses can be driven into risky situations, such as opening up your company to infringement proceedings which could result in further loss of profits and harm your long-term corporate survivability, or the possibility of competitors taking advantage of your own technological innovations.

“The strong demand for patents last year shows that innovation has remained robust,” said EPO President António Campinos. “It highlights the creativity and resilience of innovators in Europe and worldwide. They have filed higher numbers of patent applications and the strong growth in digital technologies provides compelling evidence of the digital transformation taking place across all sectors and industries,” he said.

Monitoring and managing such a large quantity of data can be daunting. However, perseverance and employment of specialist databases and advanced Knowledge Management systems, such as Pat-KM, that automate many of the processes will pay off in terms of the wealth of insights gained.

“Pat-KM allows effective knowledge sharing even with users that are outside the technical and legal sphere, such as section heads or company directors who can request a summary of the new information on a particular topic for review.” Explains Moira Sivills, Minesoft Project Manager. “It provides access to global patent data with integrated workflows for monitoring, classification, and dissemination of relevant patent records. As a Knowledge Management system, it represents an evolution away from the usual one-size-fits-all solution towards a more bespoke approach that can adapt, and change based on client needs and feedback to changing scenarios.”

For more information about Pat-KM, go to