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Deeper insights into the patent system 

Five scientific and economic reports published today provide new insights into the patent system, addressing such diverse topics as the impact of university innovation on local businesses in European regions, the analysis of standard-essential patents using semantic comparison, the digital transformation of the automotive industry, following the development of green technologies using trajectories, and the enrichment of the EPO’s public database with linked open data.

The research projects were initially awarded in 2018 under the EPO’s Academic Research Programme (ARP), receiving grants totalling €300 000. The resulting reports have been reviewed by renowned IP experts and scholars, including at the last annual ARP workshop 19-20 January 2021 (held virtually) attended by current and former grant recipients, the Scientific Committee, IP researchers, as well as experts from EUIPO and OECD.

EPO Chief Economist Yann Ménière, who chairs the programme’s Scientific Committee, said: “The impact of the patent system on industry, society and the economy raises important and often complex questions for decision makers in the policy and business areas. Careful, robust, peer-reviewed academic research is often be the best way to get answers. The insights these new results give us into different aspects of the IP ecosystem and the functioning of innovation cycles can be very useful to the EPO, other researchers, and innovators alike.

Giovanna Oddo, EPO Programme Area Manager for Academia, added: “Sharing knowledge remains a central elements of the EPO’s culture. Our links with universities are growing in importance as they make a significant contribution to the IP research community.”

The EPO has recorded a series of podcasts with the authors who are all researchers and professors from leading European universities. Three episodes are being launched today, with two more to be released on 2 March 2021.

The five completed research projects from 2018, published today, are:

  • University research funding, patenting and technological impact
    Politecnico di Torino, Italy
  • Approximating the standard essentiality of patents – a semantics-based analysis
    Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich, Germany
  • Mapping green trajectories in the universal network of patent citations
    Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology; Netherlands,
  • IP linked open data: building bridge
    Nord University Business School, Bodø, Norway
  • Traditional industries and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: new trends in the creation and protection of innovation in the global automotive industry Europe
    Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy

Further research projects in the pipeline

Furthermore, in recent weeks four projects have been proposed by the ARP Scientific Committee out of a total of 58 proposals submitted in response to the 2020 call. These four projects will benefit from grants totalling €300 000, in light of their scientific quality, relevance to the objectives of the EPO Strategic Plan 2023 and expected impact. These projects will report in two years’ time and set out to investigate: the use of patent information to maximise the impact of scientific research funding schemes, the interplay between the IP system and 3D printing technologies, the impact of government-sponsored research on technical standards, and proposals for a public database linking patents to scientific publications. 

The EPO launched the Academic Research Programme in 2017 to encourage more research into the role of patents in the European economy and to promote the sharing of research results. The programme complements the EPO’s role in disseminating patent information, for example through its worldwide patent database Espacenet, and in facilitating patent analytics through tools such as PATSTAT. It is also designed to develop fruitful contacts between academic researchers and the many EPO staff who may have an interest in their analysis and conclusions.
The next call for proposals under the programme will be published in the course of 2021.

Further information