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Switzerland remains the country with the most patents per inhabitant

According to the European Patent Office (EPO)’s recently published annual report, the number of patent applications from Switzerland reached a new high of 7,283 in 2017. With 884 patent applications per one million inhabitants, Switzerland continues to be the undisputed leader.

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With 884 patent applications per one million inhabitants, Switzerland remains the undisputed number one.

The recently published 2017 annual report of the European Patent Office (EPO) shows that the number of patent applications from Switzerland rose by 0.6% last year, reaching a new high of 7,283. (2016: 7,241). Although this puts Switzerland below the 2.6% growth rate of the EU 28, it continues to top the rankings with the highest number of European patent applications per inhabitant. With 884 patent applications per one million inhabitants, it tops the list ahead of the Netherlands (412), Denmark (377), Sweden (374), Finland (329) and Germany (316). The EU 28 average in 2017 was 134 applications.

Roche is the biggest patenter in Switzerland

For the third year in a row, Roche, the pharmaceutical and biotech company headquartered in Basel, was once again the Swiss company that submitted the most patent applications to the EPO (643 applications). It was followed by the technology company ABB (508 applications), food giant Nestlé (451 applications) and the pharmaceutical company Novartis (291 applications). For the second time, three universities were among the top 20 Swiss applicants: The two Federal Institutes of Technology EPFL (71 registrations) and ETH Zurich (70 registrations) as well as the University of Zurich (58 registrations).

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Swiss companies excel in high-patent technology fields

Measured by the number of patent applications, Switzerland's three most important technology fields were measurement technology, medical technology, packaging and transport systems, followed by organic fine chemicals and “Electrical machinery and equipment, energy”. Roche, Novartis and ABB also held the top position with the EPO in the ten technology fields where the highest amount of patenting takes place:

  • Biotechnology: Roche in 1st place, Novartis in 6th place
  • Pharma: Novartis in 4th place, Roche in 5th place
  • Electrical machinery and equipment, energy: ABB in 5th place
  • Organic fine chemistry: Roche in 6th place

Canton of Vaud holds top position

Among the cantons, the canton of Vaud held its top spot for patent applications, followed by the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Zurich. The three cantons were responsible for around 42% of European patent applications in Switzerland. In fourth place is the canton of Aargau, and fifth was the canton of Neuchâtel. In the city ranking, Basel was able to extend its leading position, while registrations from Zurich declined.

Europe remains attractive as a leading technology market

The total number of EPO patent applications rose in 2017 by almost 4% to a new high of 166,000. “The growing demand for European patents confirms Europe's attractiveness as a leading technology market. European companies also filed more patents than ever before. This is an expression of both their innovativeness and their confidence in our leadership,” says EPO President Benoît Battistelli.

For the first time, Switzerland was no longer ranked among the five largest registering states, but was surpassed by China, which is now ranked fifth after the USA, Germany, Japan and France.

(Source: press text)

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