Munich. The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) recorded an extremely positive development of its annual figures for 2016. While the number of granted patents and registered trade marks increased significantly over the previous year, the backlogs in many types of IP procedures had substantially fallen by the end of 2016. For trade mark and patent applications, but also with regard to the demand for the search services offered by the DPMA and for the search reports issued, the output of the Federal authority again reached a record high in 2016.
"Every IP right granted protects the results of research and development. Patents and trade marks, registered designs and utility models are intellectual property and immaterial assets," said Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer, President of the DPMA, during the presentation of the 2016 annual figures in Munich. "Our annual figures are very impressive! The fact that the number of patent grants and trade mark registrations, which have been on the rise for many years, were even exceeded by the 2016 figures shows that German IP rights and their high quality level enjoy the continued trust of innovators."
The DPMA responds to the consistently high demand in recent years by continuously expanding its e-services - the portfolio of the office now covers the fully electronic processing of IP procedures for patents, utility models and trade marks. Applications for all types of IP, including also the registered design, can be filed online via the Internet and more and more customers regard this option as an attractive alternative to the traditional way of filing paper requests. About seven out of ten IP applications were received electronically via the Internet in 2016. The rates of online filings are up to four percentage points above last year's values.
In the past year, 35,673 patent examination procedures were concluded at the DPMA, 6.5% more than in the year before. This corresponds to more than 140 concluded procedures on average per working day. For patent grants the increase was 5.8%: in 2016, 15,652 patent grants were published, the highest number in the past nine years. This corresponds to a grant rate of 43.9% in relation to the total number of examination procedures concluded in 2016.
In 2016, a total of 67,898 inventions were filed as patent applications with the DPMA, an increase of 1.5% over the previous year. 77.5% of all patent applications were filed online. The demand from Germany for international patent applications which entered the national phase at the DPMA (DPMA PCT national phase) soared by 27.4%, compared to the preceding year, to 1,175 applications.
With a growth rate 2.0% over 2015, the demand for German patents from abroad also showed a continued upward trend. The ranking of the countries of origin of applications remained unchanged from the previous year: Japan (6,839) is followed by the USA (5,858) and the Republic of Korea (1,203).
In 2016, the patent examiners prepared 74.4% of their first office actions within ten months, if the examination request had been filed within four months.
The number of opposition proceedings lodged (416) slightly rose compared to the previous year (2015: 402). Despite a 3.5% increase in filings, the backlog was further reduced by 4.0%.
In 2016, the DPMA performed 13,286 searches in the patent area under Section 43 of the German Patent Act (Patentgesetz), a record number since publication of these statistical data began in 2005. Compared to the previous year, 5.3% more search reports were prepared, the number of requests received in 2016 (14,847) increased by 9.2% over the previous year.
In total, 129,511 German patents and 485,893 granted European patents with effect for Germany were in force at the end of 2016.
In 2016, transport in the sector of mechanical engineering topped the ranking of the technological fields with the most applications, followed by electrical machinery, apparatus and energy in the sector of electrical engineering. Mechanical elements came third, medical technology ranked in the tenth position.
The ranking of German Länder remained unchanged. In 2016, most applications were again filed by companies and individual applicants with a residence or principal place of business in Bavaria (15,867), followed again by Baden-Württemberg (14,374) and North Rhine-Westphalia (7,068). The largest percentage increase in patent applications in the past year was recorded by Rhineland-Palatinate (1,076) and Saxony-Anhalt (228), which achieved a rise of respectable 14.7% and 14.0%, respectively.
In 2016, the three most active companies and institutions in the field of patents were Robert Bosch GmbH, Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG and Daimler AG.
Patent Prosecution Highway: fast track to patent grant
After the DPMA joined the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) pilot in July 2015, we can now for the first time take stock of the data of the calendar year 2016, taking into account the new requirements: within the scope of this pilot, all GPPH requests can be filed at the participating patent authorities worldwide under the same requirements. The harmonisation makes the use of the patent prosecution highway even easier and more attractive for the applicants. The sharp increase in PPH requests received under this programme at the DPMA shows that the office and German patents are highly attractive also for foreign applicants. The DPMA's joining the Global PPH pilot has had an extremely positive effect on filings, the expected target was by far exceeded. In 2016, a new record high was reached with a total of 761 PPH requests from abroad and an increase of 23.5% compared to the previous year. Japan remains the top country of origin with 523 requests, followed by the USA with 183 and the Republic of Korea with 18 requests.
In the past year, 75,501 trade mark registration procedures were concluded at the DPMA, 14.9% more than in the year before. This corresponds to more than 300 concluded procedures on average per working day. Two thirds (69.1%) of all concluded procedures resulted in the registration of the trade mark. With 52,194 trade marks that were entered in the Trade Mark Register, the 2016 figure was the highest number in the past nine years and a substantial increase of 12.2% compared to the previous year.
The intensified and concentrated measures of the DPMA to reduce backlogs in the registration procedures resulted in a significant reduction of 20.7% in 2016. Formerly, the backlogs had grown annually.
In 2016, 69,340 national trade marks were newly applied for in Germany, which is about the same number as in the previous year (2015: 68,951). However, a fact worth noting is the consistent upward trend of many years for applications from abroad, which became even more pronounced in 2016: the demand for national trade marks from abroad was 9.6% higher than in the previous year and reached the highest number in 15 years, with 4,064 applications.
North Rhine-Westphalia again filed most trade mark applications last year (14,885). With 200 applications per 100,000 inhabitants, Hamburg is relatively the most creative German Land. With 106 registrations, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG takes first place among the companies and institutions with the most trade mark registrations in 2016, followed by Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH with 91 registrations and Bayer Intellectual Property GmbH with 87 registrations.
By the end of last year, the number of national trade marks registered at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office amounted to 804,618.
For international trade marks (international registrations), the number of applications fell by almost a quarter (23.4%) in 2016. Of the total number of all trade mark applications received by the DPMA in the past year, applications for international trade marks accounted for 4.8% in 2016.
By contrast, the use of the online filing options for trade mark applications saw a strong upward trend: with 44,151 applications, our customers filed 6.9% more applications via the Internet in 2016 than in the previous year. Of the applications filed, 63.7% were online applications (2015: 59.9%).
In 2016, the Design Division of the DPMA conclusively dealt with 6,839 applications, a rise of 4.4% over the previous year. The number of applications which resulted in a registration amounted to 5,641, also a higher number than in 2015 (5,466).
Nine out of ten designs applied for (92.7%) were registered in 2016.
In 2016, the DPMA received 7,143 single and multiple applications covering 54,588 designs. This means that the number of designs filed dropped by 5.5% in comparison to the preceding year, the number of applications by 1.1%.
Here, too, the proportion of online filings is continuously growing: 78.2% of all applications were filed electronically at the DPMA in the year under report (2015: 74.3%). With this peak percentage value, the registered design is for the first time ahead of all other IP types in online filings.
At the end of 2016, the number of designs registered at the DPMA amounted to 313,296.
For utility models, applications from abroad increased slightly by 0.6%; however, the total number dropped by 1.8% to 14,024 applications compared to the previous year - due to lower domestic demand. Countries of origin of foreign applications are in particular Taiwan, the USA and China.
In 2016, the backlogs were substantially reduced - for registration procedures by 5.5%, for cancellation proceedings by 6.4%. For registration procedures, backlogs fell to an all-time low since 1991.
At the end of 2016, utility models registered in Germany totalled 83,183.
The use of the online filing option is again weakest for utility models, but with an upward tendency: for 2016, 49.7% of the applications were filed online (2015: 46.5%).
The DPMA's fee income grew again in 2016, namely by 3.5% to 394.4 million euros. The expenditure amounted to 272.9 million euros (+5.9%). The numbers include any income and expenditure of the Federal Patent Court as well as the pension charges by the DPMA and the Federal Patent Court.
At the end of 2016, the DPMA had a staff of 2,584 at its locations in Munich, Jena, Berlin and Hauzenberg. The ratio of female (1,247) to male (1,337) staff was nearly even.
The DPMA is the national centre of expertise in the field of IP protection in Germany. It is the largest patent and trade mark office in Europe and the fifth largest national patent office in the world.
For more information and statistics for 2016, please go to https://presse.dpma.de/presseservice/englisch/patentemarkenundco/datenzahlenfakten/statistiken/index.html.
© 2016 Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt | Stand vom 07.03.2017