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FAQ - Patent statistics



Why are patent statistics important?

Patent statistics can be used to ascertain the maturity of certain technologies or to identify technological trends. By comparing the number of applications with the number of applicants, it is possible to identify whether research activities are clustered or scattered. This can then be illustrated in a patent map.

What is patent mapping?

Patent mapping is essentially the visualisation of the results of statistical analyses and text mining processes applied to patent documents. Patent mapping allows you to create a visual representation of information from and about patent documents in a way that is easy to understand. It is an excellent tool for assessing large sets of patent data. Using bibliographic data you can identify which technical fields particular applicants are active in, and how their filing patterns and IP portfolios change over time. It is also possible to find out which countries lead in which fields.

Who uses patent statistics and patent mapping?

Patent statistics and patent mapping can provide invaluable information for corporate decision-makers, investors (venture capitalists, promotional banks), innovators (R&D), influencers (patent offices, policy-makers) and management.

How do I create a patent map? What are the steps involved?

Step 1:
  • Define the data to include in the analysis
  • Choose a database that covers the required information
  • Define your query (dates, IPC, keywords, etc.)
  • Collect data; remove noise, i.e. irrelevant or insufficient information
  • Harmonise applicants' names
Step 2:

Carry out a statistical analysis of structured information such as bibliographic data, inventors' names, titles of inventions, etc. Do text mining on unstructured information such as abstracts, descriptions and claims


  • Export the data (full data set) to a spreadsheet
  • Define the purpose of analysis (e.g. technologies, application)
  • Add categories of information to documents
  • Run a statistical analysis
  • Check results
Step 3:

Visualise the results of your statistical analysis by creating your patent map. There are many different kinds of patent maps for various purposes and users. You can use various graphs to show the results of your statistical analysis, for example simple bar or line charts, area graphs or bubble charts. These are all forms of patent maps.

Where can I find information from the EPO about patent statistics?

Basic EPO production statistics such as filing rates by technical domain, residence of applicants and inventors, the most active patent filers, etc. can be found on the general statistics page, which contains a general breakdown by EPC contracting state (also published in our annual reports). An executive summary of the same statistics is incorporated in the Facts and figures brochure.

Where else can I find patent-related statistics?


Statistical data from the EU perspective can be found on the Eurostat website (follow the headings "Science & Technology", then "Patents").


The Trilateral website has statistics from the EPO, JPO and USPTO dating back to 1996 in the annual Trilateral Statistical Reports, which also provide an overview of worldwide patenting activities, as well as details of and comparisons between each office's business processes.


The WIPO website provides patent and PCT statistics.


The OECD's work on patents covers various patent indicators reflecting trends in innovative activity across a wide range of OECD and non-OECD countries, with six main sections: EPO, USPTO and JPO patent families; patenting at national, regional and international level; patenting in selected technology areas; patents by institutional sector; international co-operation in patenting; European and international patent citations.

Can I extract statistics from Espacenet?

Espacenet cannot be used to produce statistics. Its main purpose is to look for patents in a particular technical field, coming from a particular inventor, applicant, etc. The indicated number of results found is only an approximate number generated using the average patent family size.

Does the EPO provide tailor-made data sets or statistical analyses or tools that automatically generate patent maps?

No, the EPO can advise users and guide them to the appropriate tools that will help them conduct their analysis of patent statistics and create a patent map. However, it does not provide tailor-made data sets or statistical analyses, and has not developed tools for automatically generating patent maps.

Watch out for virtual classroom seminars on patent mapping and statistics on the EPO's searchable events calendar.

Which commercial databases are useful for analysing patent statistics and creating patent maps?

A good guide to commercial databases and products related to patent statistics and patent mapping is "Patent analysis for competitive technical intelligence and innovative thinking". There is also a "Guide Book for Practical Use of 'Patent Map for Each Technology Field'", published by the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and the Asia-Pacific Industrial Property Center, JIII.

For advice and guidance on which patent mapping tool is right for you, contact Johannes Schaaf at: jschaaf@epo.org

What are the limitations of patent mapping and patent statistics?

Be aware that simply counting patents is often not enough, since the value of patents is so different from case to case - you need to assess the importance of the invention. Significant indicators include: patent family size, the length of time the patent is in force and citation information.

Some sources of patent statistics are limited to data from a particular geographical area, ESPACE Bulletin for example containing only European publication data.

You should also always compare the resulting information with other sources, such as market information and expert opinions. You should also be familiar with the patent grant procedure.

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