Record Innovation in Healthcare, Computer and Digital Technology Drive Surge in European Patent Applications by U.S. Companies


Amid Global Semiconductor Shortage and Race to Meet Demand, U.S. Secures Biggest Share of Chipmaking Patent Applications Ahead of South Korea and China

  • Healthcare and digital technology innovation is driving U.S. patent applications in Europe
  • U.S. leads in patenting semiconductors ahead of South Korea and China, backed by Intel and Qualcomm
  • Raytheon is the most active U.S. patent applicant in Europe, soaring above Airbus and Boeing in aerospace innovation
  • California continues U.S. dominance in technology innovation, accounting for nearly a third of all U.S. patent applications in Europe, followed by Massachusetts and New York
  • Strong rebound from U.S companies in 2021 after decline in 2020

MUNICH, April 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that U.S. companies and inventors filed 5.2% more patent applications in Europe in 2021, reversing the decline of -4.2% of the previous year, a total of 46,533 applications (+ 2,283), and new all-time high, according to the EPO Patent Index 2021.

The U.S. was the number one country of origin for patent applications at the European Patent Office in 2021, accounting for 25% of total filings.

The U.S. growth was driven by increased patent applications in healthcare and digital technologies, making up the five leading U.S technology fields with the most patent applications in Europe:

  1. Medical technology: U.S. holds a 38% share of all patent applications by all countries, making the U.S. the clear No. 1 in that field, No. 2 Germany holds a 9% share.
  2. Computer technology: U.S. holds a 36% share of all patent applications by all countries, making the U.S. also the clear No. 1, ahead of China holding a 15% share.
  3. Digital communication: U.S. hold a 24% share, making the U.S. the No. 2 behind China with a 29% share.
  4. Pharmaceuticals: U.S. hold a 40% share, making U.S. again the clear No. 1, followed by Germany with a 7% share.
  5. Biotechnology: U.S. hold a 34% share, making the U.S. again the clear No. 1, followed by Germany with a 10% share.

U.S patent applications grew in all five leading fields: medical technology by 1.9%, computer technology by 8.0%, digital communication by 2.4%, pharmaceuticals by 15.7%, and biotechnology by 11.2%. The strongest U.S. growth was recorded in transport (+18.7%), which includes the automotive and aerospace industries, and in audio-visual technology (+33.3%).

The European Patent Office (EPO) received 188,600 total applications in 2021, up 4.5% after a slight decrease in 2020 (-0.7%). Digital communication and computer technology posted the strongest growth, demonstrating the digital transformation underway, followed by strong increases in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, underlining high levels of innovation in vaccines and other areas of healthcare. 

“The strong demand for patents last year shows that innovation has remained robust,” said EPO President António Campinos. “It highlights the creativity and resilience of innovators in Europe and worldwide. They have filed higher numbers of patent applications and the strong growth in digital technologies provides compelling evidence of the digital transformation taking place across all sectors and industries,” he said.

U.S. leads in semiconductor patenting ahead of China and South Korea

U.S companies filed the most European patent applications for semiconductors in 2021, making it the No.1 country of origin in that industry, accounting for a 19% share. Patent applications from U.S. companies at the EPO in semiconductors grew by 4% in 2021. Patent applications from Chinese companies in the field grew by 46% and those from South Korea rose by 36%. South Korea’s Samsung increased its patent applications in semiconductors by 57% in 2021, to now hold a 13% share of all patent applications among semiconductor manufacturers, making Samsung the No. 1, ahead of Intel and TSMC in second and third place, respectively, each with a 3% share.

Raytheon new No. 1 U.S. patent applicant at the EPO

Raytheon became the new top U.S. patent applicant at the EPO, filing a total 1,623 patent applications, and pushing Qualcomm into second place. (Graph: Top U.S. applicants at the EPO in 2021). Raytheon also leads in patent applications in the aerospace industry, growing its patent applications by 61.2% to 295, which puts the company in the lead ahead of Airbus (236 patent applications, +55.3%) and Boeing (130 patent applications, -5.8%)

California files almost 29% of all U.S. patent applications in Europe

From a regional point of view, California is the most innovative state, filing 13,499 patent applications, 29% of all U.S. patent applications (or approx. 80% of the volume of China). California is followed by Massachusetts (8% share), New York (6.5% share), and Texas (5.1% share). The top 4 states account for almost half (48.6%) of all U.S. filings.  

For detailed statistics, see the EPO Patent Index 2021 at


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SOURCE The European Patent Office


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