European Patent Office: UK transport sector continues to innovate

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 08:58
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The latest data from the European Patent Office, released in March, reveals that the UK’s transport sector continued to innovate in 2019 – filing 9% more patent applications than over the previous 12 months. Patent applicants from across the world use the EPO, so these figures give a good snapshot of global technology innovation.

European Patent Office

The global transport sector, currently struggling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, filed 9,635 patent applications at the European Patent Office, while the figure for UK applicants was 350, up from 321 over the previous 12 months.

With major infrastructure projects such as HS2 continuing to galvanise the UK’s transport sector, and significant private investment in the UK announced by companies such as INEOS Automotive and Nissan – the UK’s transport sector is aiming to compete in emerging transport technologies such as automated vehicles and smart cities.

European patent applications from UK applicants reveals the increasing role software and technology will have in transport and many other sectors. The UK filed 240 patent applications relating to digital communications and 467 relating to computer technology (up 7.1% and 24.5% respectively) – highlighting the important role that technologies such as artificial intelligence will have in shaping the UK’s economy in the future.

Ed Round, a Partner with leading intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk said; “The latest data from the EPO paints a positive picture of transport innovation in the UK, with a 9% rise in patent applications filed in 2019. While the sector will undoubtedly be experiencing uncertainty due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is encouraging that the latest data shows that the sector has continued to innovate.

“What the latest data doesn’t capture is the increasing role of software and digital technologies in the transport sector. Digital technology will define the future of the transport sector, shaping developments from automated vehicles to smart cities. As such, computer technology companies are progressing into sectors once dominated by large product manufacturing companies.

Adopting new technologies such as AI and digital communication will be a challenge that many automotive and transport manufacturers will face in coming years, and intellectual property will be key to meeting that challenge.”

European Patent Office

The European Patent Office data highlighted the scale of innovation investment in the UK across a range of sectors. 6,156 European patent applications were filed from the UK in 2019 according to the data. This is up from 5,761 applications filed in 2018 – an increase of nearly 7%.

Globally, the biggest source of patent applications in 2019 was digital communications, with 14,175 being filed (up nearly 20% on 2018). Computer technology applications were also up 10%, at 12,774.

Full details of the annual report can be found at:

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