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Clarification on data sources

Cut-off date for data

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 late transmitted applications may be recorded and a few applications may be 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 2023 as reported in March 2024 might be slightly different in a few places when reported on again in the subsequent edition of the Patent Index (when the 2023 figures can be revised with the benefit of an extra year of hindsight). Any slight 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.

Also note that patent applications submitted via the PCT are counted at the EPO only in the calendar year they enter the European regional phase, once all required conditions are fulfilled 31 months from their priority date. In some cases this might be in the calendar year after they were submitted to the EPO.

Consolidation of applicants

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.