"Despite the relatively low absolute number of patent applications, Portugal has the highest growth rate, and it is expected soon to overtake Luxembourg and the Czech Republic in this indicator."
Portugal rose nine places in the European ranking of patent applications between 2001 and 2020 and may “soon” overtake Luxembourg and the Czech Republic in this indicator, according to the ‘Inventa 2022 Barometer – Patents Made in Portugal’.
“Portugal rose nine places in the ranking [from 29th to 20th place] when comparing the 2020 values with the 2001 values, with a six-fold increase in the evaluated interval,” according to the barometer published on Monday by the specialised intellectual property consultancy Inventa.
“Despite the relatively low absolute number of patent applications [1,874 in 2020, compared to 305 in 2001], Portugal has the highest growth rate, and it is expected soon to overtake Luxembourg and the Czech Republic in this indicator.”
According to the barometer, “the effects of the pandemic were also evident in these results, as most countries had a reduction in the number of patent applications filed in 2020 compared to 2019, where in the case of Portugal, the reduction was 12.8%.
Analysing the period from 2002 to 2020, the growth in the total number of applications filed by Portuguese applicants at the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) was 9.3%, while in patent applications filed by Portuguese applicants in the other jurisdictions (including the European Patent Office – EPO) the rise was 13.4%.
Regarding the patent offices most chosen by Portuguese applicants when seeking to internationalise their applications, there is “a strong interest in the European (EPO), North American (USA and Canada) and Asian (Japan, China or South Korea) markets, besides the expected interest in Brazil, which is a very significant market”.
The available data shows a growth of over 20% for internationalisations in Japan and Canada. In absolute values, the USA and the EPO stand out as the international institutes receiving the most applications originating in Portugal.
Comparing the evolution of patent applications in the various countries of the world by applicants from Portugal and by applicants from the five leading economies of the European Union (Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands), it can be seen that “Portugal shows, with a large difference, the highest growth rate in the filing of patent applications by national applicants (11.21%)”.
Even so, a more cautious analysis shows that “the absolute value of the total number of patent applications filed from 2002 to 2020 (21,033) is still very low compared to the number of applications filed in the various countries of the world by nationals of the five countries taken for comparison.
For example, the total number of patent applications originating in Germany exceeded three million (3,181,703); in France, it exceeded a million (1,195,977).
Analysing the growth in the number of patent concessions originating in Portugal and the number of patent concessions of applicants originating in the five major economies of the European Union by the various patent offices in the world, the conclusion is that “although Portugal has good results (30.20% and 6,352 patents) and a continuous growth in the number of concessions in the last four years, the values observed are far below the five major economies of the EU”.
Italy leads the group of countries studied, with a growth of 72.65% for concessions. At the same time, in absolute values, Germany stands out for having more than one and a half million patents granted over the period analysed (2002-2020).
“In absolute numbers and in comparison with other European economies, Portugal still has a long way to go,” concludes the barometer.
And it details that “Portugal has a high average annual growth rate in the deposit of patent applications in patent offices abroad (13.4%), but the absolute value remains low when compared with other European economies”, with the same trend regarding patent concessions.
The Inventa barometer also reveals that the number of patents originating in Portugal that remain valid at home or abroad “continues to grow, having reached a growth of 11.49% in the number of concessions” and this rate is even higher for applications filed abroad, at 14.54%.
As he explains, “the survival of patents over the years indicates an interest in exploiting the technologies described in them, and this indicator shows a better use of the patent system by applicants and, equally important, a realised or expected economic return on the inventions”.
An analysis of the filing of European patent applications at the EPO by Portuguese regions reveals that the “North maintains the lead in European applications and in the percentage of total applications from 2019 to 2021, reaching 47% of applications during this period.”
“The Centre region is positioned just behind, with 21.7% of applications during the period evaluated and with a significant growth rate in applications filed in 2021,” notes the barometer.
Regarding the number of applications filed at the INPI, “a similar pattern to the EPO results is observed, with the North region maintaining leadership and a growth trend in the number of applications filed in the country”, attributed to “the greater concentration of the Portuguese industrial fabric, and consequently, research and development activity”.
In turn, the total number of applications from the Lisbon Metropolitan Area is slightly higher than the Centre region. At the same time, the Algarve has the lowest performance in mainland Portugal regarding the percentage of applications filed (2.1%), “very much in part influenced by its tourism-oriented economy”.