U.S. Companies File More Patent Applications In Europe

Published on
  • U.S. is top country for patent applications at European Patent Office (EPO), up 2.9% compared to 2021
  • Medical and computer technology are top fields of U.S. inventions
  • U.S. leads in digital communication patenting ahead of China, Sweden, Korea and Japan
  • Qualcomm is new No. 1 patent applicant at the EPO from the U.S., nearly doubling its filings last year
  • California tops regional ranking for European patent applications

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A New Record Of Patent Applications Filed By U.S. Companies In Europe

Munich, 28 March 2023 – U.S. companies and inventors filed 48,088 European patent applications in 2022, up 2.9% compared to 2021 and a new record. According to the European Patent Office (EPO)’s Patent Index 2022, published today, the U.S. filed the most European patent applications, ahead of Germany, Japan, China, and France.

Almost a quarter of all patent filings with the EPO in 2022 came from the U.S., (see graph). Overall patent applications at the EPO grew by 2.5% to 193,460, mainly fueled by filings from China (+15.1%), the U.S., and the Republic of Korea (+10.0%).

The number of patent applications, an early indicator of companies’ investments in research and development, underlines that innovation remained robust last year despite economic uncertainties around the globe.

patent applications

“When it comes to the promise of green innovation, there has been solid, sustained growth in filings related to clean technologies and other means that create, transfer and store electricity,” said EPO President António Campinos.

“It’s this ongoing boom that is navigating the energy transition. Innovators are also working towards a smarter future, as the fourth industrial revolution takes hold of our lives, sectors and industries – and spreads far into other areas from transport to healthcare. We can see this in the relentless growth in patent applications in digital technologies and semiconductors.”

For the U.S., the five leading technology fields with the most European patent applications in 2022 were:

  1. Medical technology: U.S. companies filed 5,866 European patent applications to be top listed in the field at the EPO, ahead of German companies with 1,391 applications.
  2. Computer technology: U.S. businesses filed 5,469 patent applications with the EPO, making the U.S. the No. 1 country in the field in Europe, ahead of China with 2,343 applications in computer technology.
  3. Digital communication: American corporations filed 5,020 patent applications in this field, making the U.S. the No. 1, followed by China with 4,705 patent applications.
  4. Pharmaceuticals: U.S. companies filed a total of 3,692 patent applications in the field (+5.5% compared to 2021), making the U.S. the No. 1 by far, followed by Germany with a total of 613 applications. U.S. companies accounted for 39.7% of all European patent applications in pharmaceuticals in 2022 – the highest share by U.S. firms in any of the top 10 fields at the EPO.
  5. Biotechnology: U.S. businesses filed for 2,756 patent applications with the EPO, making the U.S. again the clear No. 1 in this field, followed by Germany with 770 patent applications.

The technology fields with the highest growth in European patent applications in 2022 by U.S. companies were digital communication (+35.5% compared to 2021), followed by electrical machinery, apparatus, energy (+18.1%), a field which encompasses many inventions in clean energy technologies including battery innovations.

U.S. companies also filed 55.5% more applications at the EPO in semiconductors (albeit from a lower number), making it the top filing country at the EPO in this field. Intel was ranked No. 2 among patent filers in semiconductors.

patent applications

Qualcomm Is New No. 1 U.S. Patent Applicant At The EPO

Nearly doubling its patent filing activity (+93.4%), Qualcomm advanced to be the top U.S. patent applicant at the EPO, filing for a total of 2,966 European patents last year.

The company moved from No. 7 to No. 3 in the EPO’s top applicant ranking. It also leads patent applications in the digital communication technology field, ahead of Huawei, Ericsson, and Samsung.

U.S. company Raytheon went from top spot to second at the EPO, with a total of 1,539 applications, and it was among the top three applicants in the fields of measurement and transport.


Finally, Alphabet (1,135 applications, +10.9% compared to 2021) moved up from fourth to third place among U.S. filers, and was also ranked 4th in the computer technology field at the EPO. Many of the other leading U.S. companies increased their European patent applications in 2022 (Johnson & Johnson +30.1%, Intel +29.9%, and Apple +55.4%).

patent applications

California Tops State Ranking

The highest number of European patent applications originating from the U.S. were filed by businesses located in California, accounting for 16,139 European patent applications in 2022, or a third (33.6%) of the U.S. total filings with the EPO.

California is also the No. 1 region overall for patent applications at the EPO. This figure is approximately 85% of the volume of China’s European patent applications and 75% of Japan's. California is followed by Massachusetts (7.3% share), New York (5.4% share), and Texas (4.8% share).

The top four states account for over half (51.1%) of all European patent applications filed by U.S. companies with the EPO.

About the EPO

With 6,300 staff members, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe.