Germany's inventors in industry and research are weak in their annual patent applications - in contrast to foreign competition. The number of domestic patent applications fell last year by 6.6 percent to 37,194, as reported by the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) in Munich on Thursday. 20,020 inventions and developments were registered for patents from abroad, 6.8 percent more than in 2021.
The USA, Japan and South Korea play an important role here. The number of patent applications from China has increased rapidly, even if the absolute number is still comparatively low. The experts at the DPMA see the figures as an indication of "structural change in innovation activity": According to the DPMA, inventions in the field of electrical engineering are increasing, while at the same time the number of patent applications from mechanical engineering and the automotive industry, two traditionally very strong branches of German industry, are falling.
"Digitization, automation and artificial intelligence as well as battery technology are playing an increasingly important role," said DPMA President Eva Schewior. "In terms of the number of patent applications, this development is currently not exactly in favor of Germany."
Patent applications mainly from companies
The majority of new patent applications are filed by companies, research institutions and individual inventors play a subordinate role. The largest customer at the DPMA is Robert Bosch GmbH with 3,946 applications, followed by BMW with 1,867. Within Germany, the south is well ahead of the north, with Baden-Württemberg in first place with 13,444 applications, followed by Bavaria with 10,548. An application does not automatically mean that the patent would also be granted.
Although patent fees are expensive, internationally active corporations often register new developments not only in their home country, but also in important foreign markets. Since Germany is the largest economy in the EU, the proportion of international patent applications at the DPMA is high.
In absolute figures, the USA is in second place in the German patent statistics with 6847 applications, 16.2 percent more than in the previous year. Chinese firms filed 702 patent applications, nearly a quarter more than a year earlier.