In 2018, a total of 174,317 European patent applications were filed, according to the 2018 annual report of the European Patent Office (EPO). That is a 4.6% increase on the previous year (2017: 166,594). 47% of those applications were from one of the 38 EPO member states, including the Benelux countries.
Applications from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg
The number of European patent applications from the Netherlands rose to 7,140, i.e. up by 1.4% on 2017. That places the Netherlands second in the world ranking of patent applications per capita.
For Belgium, 2018 was in fact a record-breaking year: patent application numbers rose by no less than 9.7% on 2017, i.e. totaling 2,360. This is the biggest upsurge since 2010. Of the 174,000-plus European patent applications, 455 were from Luxembourg. That may be down on 2017, but it is well up on the level of activity ten years ago (2009: 364).
Who is filing patent applications?
71% of European patent applications were filed by big firms, 20% by SMEs and individual inventors and 9% by universities and public research institutes.
Applying for a patent in Belgium, the Netherlands or Luxembourg
Patents protect inventions of technical products or processes. To be patentable, an invention must be novel, inventive and have an industrial application. A patent gives you a temporary monopoly on the invention. You can use your patent to stop others from using your invention. A patent is valid for a maximum of twenty years. If you want to protect your invention with a patent, you must apply for one. A patent is valid for a specific country or group of countries. You decide in which countries you want your invention to be protected. You can apply for a patent separately per country or in one go for a number of countries at the same time.
For Belgium, you can apply for a patent at the Office for Intellectual Property (OPRI); the relevant body for the Netherlands is the Netherlands Patent Office (OCNL); and in Luxembourg, you should turn to the Office for Intellectual Property.