The European Patent Office (EPO) has released its annual statistics for patent applications in 2019. Of the EPO member states, which account for only 45 percent of the total applications in Europe, the Netherlands is ranked number four (8th globally), submitting 4 percent of the total applications. While the number of Dutch applications has dropped 2.6 percent since 2018, the number of patents granted has increased by more than 14 percent over the same period.
The decrease in total Dutch patent applications is attributed to fewer submissions by some of the typical big names in the Netherlands. Philips, for instance, the most active applicant from the Netherlands and number eight in the world, applied for 1,542 patents – down 4.6 percent from the year prior. Another contributing factor to the dip was the shift from patent requests in the fields of biotechnology (-22.6), food chemistry (-15.6) and medical technology (-5.6) toward the digital communications (+19.6) and computer technology (+10.2) sectors, signaling the further transition into the era of digitalization, specifically lead by the release of 5G and developments in AI.
It certainly wasn’t, however, all bad news for the lowlands. Signify, the former Philips Lighting, requested 656 applications, an increase of almost 15 percent, ranking 3rd in the electrical machines, appliances and energy sector. Other notable Dutch companies include semiconductor company NXP with 351 applications, a rise of more than 10 percent, and Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands, which submitted 530 applications, an increase of over 4 percent compared to the year prior. By region, North Brabant was top in the Netherlands and 5th in Europe, accounting for more than half of Dutch EPO requests. South Holland was 2nd, followed by North Holland, which pushed South Limburg out of the 3rd spot it held a year ago. By city, in the Netherlands, it was Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Rotterdam coming in 1,2 and 3.
Another shining point of data for the Netherlands was on the number of patent requests per capita. The Dutch come in 4th in the world with 404 applications for every million inhabitants. “The Netherlands is clearly home to a lot of innovation given the position of several leading companies at the top of our patent applicants and the high listing of patent applications per capita,” comments EPO President António Campinos. “Moreover, what counts is that the patent applications from the Netherlands cover a broad field of technology and that the country’s innovative strength, therefore, has a solid basis in many different industries.”