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The annual Patent Index reports on the European patent applications and European patents granted in one calendar year. In collating the data to be included, a cut-off date at around five weeks after the end of the reported year is taken. This means that each Patent Index is a “snapshot” of the situation as it was best understood on the cut-off date. In subsequent weeks new data may come to light that results in a few patent applications being assigned to a different technology field and/or applicant and/or country. These differences are taken into consideration only at the next edition of the Patent Index. In other words, the final figures for the year 2020 as reported in March 2021 might be slightly different in a few places when reported on again in the subsequent edition of the Patent Index (when 2020 can be compared with 2021). Any differences between the Patent Index and the statistics and trends centre data visualisation service can be attributed to subsequent reassignments of technology field, applicant or country to a handful of applications after the cut-off date.
Some patent applications have more than one applicant. The EPO follows the principle of assigning an application to the first named applicant – therefore jointly owned applications will be counted only once. Patent applications made by joint ventures are counted in the name of the joint venture and not assigned to either of the parent companies. In preparing the ranking for the Top 100 applicants (globally) our leading applicants are consulted during the winter to confirm which of the numerous companies within their group should be counted together. Note that the rankings in the Patent Index for Top applicants or Top patentees (for European patent applications or granted patents respectively) group all relevant applications or granted patents regardless of their country of origin and assign them to the country of the HQ of the applicant or patentee, i.e. they are a global tally. By contrast, the Top 10 applicant rankings in the individual country dashboards of the statistics and trends centre consider only those applications that originated from that particular country – this means that applicants filing patent applications from a variety of countries will appear in the rankings differently.