As every year in the annual review of the European Patent Office (EPO), Germany is the innovative nation of Europe with about 15% of European patents filed in 2018. Germany is right behind the United States and exceeds Japan at the global level. The United States remains the leader of filed patent in Europe with a share of 25%.
Germany files and gets between two and three times more patents than France which is stable in the issuance and filing of European patents at a level of 5,9%. China attains 5,4% of the patents filed and hassle France.
What is even more disturbing is the rise of European patents granted to Chinese companies. Recall that a patent is an industrial property title which gives its owner a right to prohibit a third party exploitation of the invention subject of the patent from a certain date for a period of 20 years in general, 25 years maximum, in a specific geographical area (In this case Europe within the meaning of the 1973 Munich Convention and for a limited period).
Chinese companies thus protect the exploitation of their inventions on the European territory, which is not the case of India, Brazil or the Russian Federation.
We are far from a nation that would simply be the assembly plant of the world. Until the 16th century, the Chinese have been much more innovative than Europe and then nothing. They are back.
The EPO figures below* show that between 2008 and 2018 the number of European patents granted to Chinese companies has increased exponentially. For example, in 2008, there are 1501 Chinese patents filed against 9082 patents filed by French companies and in 2018 there are 9401 Chinese patents filed against 10317 patents filed by French companies. In ten years the proportion has drastically changed.
If the trend continues, we can estimate that it is possible for China to catch up in absolute terms with France in 2020 and maybe Germany in 2025. How not to think about its objective of the "Design in China", intended to go beyond the "Made in China" 2020, that is tomorrow.
It is high time that the European nations come to support Germany, which is the only big player in this technology war by an industrial policy of another dimension.
President of the association of salaried inventors
Le Club est l'espace de libre expression des abonnés de Mediapart. Ses contenus n'engagent pas la rédaction.