Record innovation in healthcare, computing and digital technology leads to surge in European patent filings by US companies

  1. medical technology: The United States holds a share of 38% of all patent applications from all countries, which makes the United States the No. 1 in this field, Germany No. 2 holds a share of 9%.
  2. computer technology: The United States holds a 36% share of all patent applications from all countries, making the United States also the undisputed No. 1, ahead of China holding a 15% share.
  3. digital communications: The United States holds a 24% share, making the United States the No. 2 behind China with a share of 29%.
  4. Medications: the United States holds a 40% share, again making the United States the clear number 1, followed by Germany with a share of 7%.
  5. Biotechnology: the United States holds a 34% share, again making the United States the clear number 1, followed by Germany with a 10% share.

U.S. patent filings increased in the top five areas: 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 growth in the United States was recorded in transportation (+18.7%), which includes the automotive and aerospace industries, and in audio-visual technologies (+33.3%).

The European Patent Office (EPO) received 188,600 applications in total in 2021, up 4.5% after a slight drop in 2020 (-0.7%). Digital communication and IT showed the strongest growth, demonstrating the ongoing digital transformation, followed by strong increases in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, highlighting high levels of innovation in vaccines and other health areas .

“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 around the world. They have filed more patent applications and the strong growth of digital technologies provides compelling evidence of the digital transformation taking place across all sectors and industries,” he said.

The United States leads in semiconductor patents ahead China and South Korea

US companies filed the most European patent applications for semiconductors in 2021, making it the top source country for this industry, with a 19% share. U.S. companies’ patent applications to the EPO in semiconductors increased by 4% in 2021. Chinese companies’ patent applications in the field increased by 46% and those of South Korea increased by 36%. South Korea Samsung increased its semiconductor patent filings by 57% in 2021, to now hold 13% of all patent filings among semiconductor makers, making Samsung No. 1, ahead of Intel and TSMC in second and third place, respectively, each with a 3% share.

new #1 US patent applicant at the EPO

Raytheon became the newest US patent applicant at the EPO, filing a total of 1,623 patent applications and propelling Qualcomm to second place. (Graph: top US applicants at the EPO in 2021). Raytheon also leads patent applications in the aerospace industry, increasing its patent applications by 61.2% to 295, putting the company ahead of Airbus (236 patent applications, +55.3%) and Boeing (130 patent applications, -5.8%)

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

From a regional perspective, California is the most innovative state, filing 13,499 patent applications, 29% of all US patent applications (about 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 nearly half (48.6%) of all filings in the United States.

For detailed statistics, see the EPO Patent Index 2021 at

SOURCE The European Patent Office


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