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Bulletins » The UPC in numbers: one year on

Since the UPC opened its doors and the first Unitary Patents were filed in the summer of 2023, the unitary route for European patents has been sought over 30,000 times, with 29,939 Unitary Patents being registered – an uptake rate of 19.6%.

In this article we’ll consider the early life of the UPC and the unitary patent so far in numbers.

Application figures by industry
The figures on Unitary Patents (UP) filed so far demonstrates a broad interest in seeking unitary registration. Medical Technology is the largest single source of UPs by a considerable margin (with some 12% of the total, and over 3,000 filed to date). However, beyond this the statistics become more congested, with Transport, Digital Communications, Civil engineering and Other Special Machines all seeing around 5% of the total filed. When taken as a whole, the chemistry fields of Organic fine chemistry,

Also worth noting is the relatively low uptake for consumer goods (993 applications, 3%), biotechnology (709, 2.3%), and environmental tech (429 applications, 1.4%).

The procedural language for UP registration has been predominately English at 73.7%. German and French remain a much smaller use case at 20% and 6%, respectively.

At the moment registering a UP requires filing a full translation of the granted specification. Spanish (at 30%) has been the most common choice for translation, likely owing to Spain’s position (currently) outside of the UPCA. Translations into German (21.4%) and English (26.2%) are the next common uses.

Proprietors profile
In its first year the UPC and UPs has been mostly utilised by established large enterprises, with companies identifying as such making up 56% of the registered UPs since June 2023. This might in part be driven a need to protect large-scale portfolios which is a more common concern for pan-European large-scale businesses.

That isn’t to say that the unitary route hasn’t been used by smaller companies (35.5%) and universities and research institutions (7.6%) which might see more use of the UPC in the future.

Origins of proprietors
As might be expected, the majority of applicants for the unitary route are from within Europe. The largest proportion of these originate in Germany (at 19%) with the next closest being France at 6.9%. The UK represents 4.2% or proprietors.

There has been a healthy spread of applicants from outside of the European bloc as well, particularly from the USA (16.1%) – the second most represented country, after Germany; Japan (3.8%), China (5.9%) and Korea (3.3%).

The statistics on the UPC demonstrate the breadth of take up of the unitary patent route across industries and patent fields. They also indicate that the proprietors of unitary patents are international, with a particular interest from Germany, US, China and Korea.

Primarily, over half of those seeking unitary patents have been large-scale business so far, perhaps indicating the lure of the unitary route for larger, more established patent portfolios rather than single inventors or smaller innovators.

The unitary patent model is still in its infancy. We at Boult look forward to seeing how the profile for unitary patent applicants, their background and the industries in which they are seeking protection continues to develop in the near future.

For more on the UPC and unitary patents, read the latest commentary from our team here.

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Medical devices and diagnostics 
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