Patents in Europe: record for France, still far behind Germany

With 10,900 patent applications filed in 2022 with the European Patent Office (EPO), France marks a new record in its history

Patents in Europe: record for France, still far behind Germany

With 10,900 patent applications filed in 2022 with the European Patent Office (EPO), France marks a new record in its history. It thereby confirms its second position at European level behind Germany, and its fifth place in the world ranking of the countries of origin of the largest number of patents.

"France is becoming a solid second in Europe in terms of innovation, notes Yann Ménière, chief economist at the EPO, who has just published the annual barometer of innovation 2022. At the same time, Germany is experiencing a drop in requests for patent filings (-4.7%). However, with more than 24,000 patents filed in 2022, there is still a big gap to fill for France to be able to compete. »

But you have to be wary of sleeping water. "Historically, Germany is a more industrialized country with a strong patent and innovation culture, especially in niche industrial SMEs," continues the doctor of economics. But for ten years, the weight of this country has been decreasing in favor of other European territories. " In question ? The weight of the automotive and mechanical industry in the German economy, "turned upside down by a double transition to manage: that of electrification and that of digital, with the deployment of connected and intelligent cars".

On the French side, among the sectors with the highest number of patent applications to the EPO in 2022, we also find that of transport, in first place, allowing the country to rise to 4th place in the world in this field, ahead of the China. The strong patent activity in France in transport is also reflected in the Top 10 most innovative companies in the country: Valeo (1st in France and 7th worldwide), Safran (2nd), Thales (5th) and Renault ( 10th).

Moreover, France is also investing in innovation for the energy transition. “We see fewer and fewer patents in traditional combustion engine technologies and a lot more in transitional technologies, such as batteries and electrification, notes the chief economist of the EPO. Valeo is a good example of this: it is number one in the traditional transport sector, but also in electric propulsion, it is an automotive supplier that is redeploying its R

But where France really stands out is in the number of patent filings made by research organizations. "These public organizations play a major role in national innovation," observes the economist. The CEA [Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies, Editor's note], European champion of batteries and semiconductors, is the third most innovative player in the country; Inserm [National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Ed] is 7th and 2nd in the world ranking for pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Such a concentration is unique to France, and this is what allows it to make the difference with Switzerland, which follows it in the ranking. »

France should therefore not be ashamed of its performance. Yann Ménière takes as an example a certain number of patents filed to fight against cancer. "Élodie Belnoue and Madiha Derouazi have invented a therapeutic cancer vaccine platform to help the immune system recognize and detect cancer cells," he says. With Damae Medical, Anais Barut is developing a non-invasive imaging device that can detect and monitor skin cancers without biopsy. »

In chemistry, the patent filed by chemist Claude Grison – 2022 inventor prize – and his company BioInspir, which has developed methods for decontaminating soil and water using plants, also promises to be talked about in the next years.