Analyses & Etudes  •  Secteurs & marchés

South Korea Surges to 5th Place in European Patent Filings, Overtaking France for the First Time

With 12,575 patents filed in 2023 in Europe South Korea surged to the 5th place overtaking France with 10,814 patents filed. South Korea has known an extraordinary growth in patents filed last year with a 21% increase, followed by China (+8,8%) and USA (+1,8%).  Although France is the only European country experiencing a slow decrease (-1.5% year-on-year), as Japan which dropped by 0.3%, it remains the second European country after Germany (24,966) with the most patents filed in Europe. 


Indeed, the number of French patents remains quite steady over the years: 10,468 in 2018 compared to 10,814 in 2023. France excels in sectors like transportation and aerospace, which represent not the most dynamic sectors last year. Motor vehicles, the leading sector in French patent volume, have experienced a 1.5% decline over the past year, reflecting a shift away from traditional transportation. However, the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors remain robust, with biotechs showing a significant 7.2% growth, offsetting the 7.6% decline in pharmaceuticals. The computer sector has surged to second place with an impressive 18.2% increase in patent applications, signaling France's emergence in artificial intelligence. Major patent filers such as Valeo, Safran, and Thales represent transportation and aerospace, while Saint-Gobain excels in low-carbon construction. France's public research institutions, including CEA, Inserm, CNRS, and IFP-EN, contribute significantly to patent filings, showcasing the effectiveness of the French research model. 


On the other hand, South Korea's notable surge in European patent filings in 2023 can be attributed to its long-standing dynamism in innovation. This dynamism is rooted in the country's strong presence in cutting-edge sectors such as digital communication, the largest sector in terms of patent filings, which saw an 8.6% growth. Additionally, South Korea's prowess in the transition to clean energy, particularly in electric vehicle batteries, contributes significantly to its patent filings in the electrical machinery and energy sector, the most dynamic sector of 2023 with a remarkable 12.2% increase in patent applications. Furthermore, South Korea’s robust position in patent applications partially lies in the dynamism of its large corporations, notably Samsung and LG. Although Huawei led the patent race at the European Patent Office (EPO), it is followed closely by Samsung and LG, collectively accounting for two-thirds of filings from South Korea. This trend, combined with the global competitiveness of these Asian firms, emphasizes South Korea's ascent in European patent filings. 


Source: European Patent Office 


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