More than 5000 European patent applications related to autonomous objects were filed at the EPO in 2016 alone, achieving a growth rate of 54% in the last three years, the first European Patent Office (EPO) landscaping study on "Patents and the Fourth Industrial Revolution" indicates. Conducted by the EPO and the Handelsblatt Research Institute, the study identifies this profound technology trend that is now being observed across a whole range of technical fields.
Using state-of-the-art patent information tools and drawing on the expertise of its patent examiners, the EPO identified over 48 000 patent applications filed until the end of 2016 and relating to three relevant technology sectors of 4IR: Firstly the core technologies in the ICT field that make it possible to create connected objects; secondly, the enabling technologies that complement core technologies, such as Artificial intelligence (AI) and User interfaces; and thirdly, application domains of these technologies, such as Vehicles, Enterprise and Home.
However, China and Korea are“rapidly catching up”, having each seen more than 5% growth in the past five years.
As the study shows that,“Germany stands out in the application domains of vehicles, infrastructure and manufacturing, while France leads in enabling technologies such as artificial intelligence, security, user interfaces and 3D systems". At the EPO, Samsung led the way with fourth industrial revolution patent applications, as it filed 1,634 between 2011and 2016. The company was followed by LG with 1,125, Sony with 885 and Nokia with 640.