On 4 November 2019, the European Patent Office presented a study on the commercial use of patents by medium-sized enterprises. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the European economy. Every fifth patent application filed in 2018, according to the EPO, comes from such an SME.

The study presented is based on a sample of 14,100 pending patent applications and 12,550 granted patents from all contracting states of the European Patent Convention and across all technology areas. On the basis of this sample, 1,505 interviews (of which 761 related pending, and 744 to granted patents) were held and evaluated with representatives of the respective SME.

The study shows that patents are very important for businesses to exploit their intellectual property rights commercially – about 2/3 of the sample under review is already being used commercially. At the same time, SMEs face special challenges. Due to their small size and therefore limited resources SMEs are reliant on external partners for the registration and the exploitation of intellectual property rights. Finding the right partner for a joint venture or license, especially in commercial use, is often a challenge.

Dr. J├╝rgen Brust