This study aims to identify the profile of the filing of patent applications before the European Patent Office (EPO), wherein at least an applicant is domiciled in Africa, and to acquire more information about the main technological fields and applicants from Africa that seek patent protection within the member states of EPO.
We have evaluated the European Patent Applications filed from
2009 to 2019 having an applicant domiciled in Africa ("EP
Africa patents applications") by means of the EP Bulletin
search database, wherein 1227 documents were retrieved. Below is
listed a Top 10 counting of the number of hits according to the
Applicant's country. It is remarkable the predominance of
applicants from South Africa. Moreover, a significant amount of
patent applications has associations of African applicants and from
other countries, for example the U.S., France, Germany and United
Top 10 European patent applications wherein at least an Applicant is domiciled in Africa
Trending of filing of European patent applications per African country of residence
A steady rate of European patent applications per African
country of residence of the first applicant is illustrated in the
next figure, wherein the applicants from South Africa clearly
prevail over the remaining countries. The overall number of EP
Africa patent applications in 2018 was 142, which represents less
than 0.1% of the number of European patent applications filed in
said year, considering the overall filings, extracted from
EPO's Statistics referred to 2018. The European patent
applications include direct European applications and international
(PCT) applications that entered the European phase during the
Most frequents IPC subclasses in EP Africa patents applications
In order to identify the main technologies and applicants, the original set of 1227 documents was inputted in the patent analysis free tool PatentInspiration, allowing the identification of the most frequents IPC subclasses.
Top 20 applicants in EP Africa patents applications
In the image below, we can see the most frequent applicants and
their respective main core businesses. Without a doubt, the
universities from South Africa are responsible for a significant
share of this ranking, which also comprises several applicants
comprised in the mining industry of this country.
Trending of granting of EP Africa patent applications
It is also possible to observe a growing tendency of granting
patents. The values referred to the European patents granted in
relation to overall European patent applications were calculated
from the Five-Year review published by EPO on January 21st, 2019.
The European patents granted were calculated from 1227
documents retrieved from the EP Bulletin search database.
The results indicate stable values related to the filing of patent applications having applicants from Africa before EPO.
- Cosmetics industries
- Universities from South Africa
- Corporations from South Africa
Despite small fractions of "EP Africa patent applications" having applicants from Seychelles, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, most African corporations do not seem to seek protection by means of a European patent. Considering that the examination criteria have not changed significantly in the last few years at EPO, it is possible to assess that the quality of the "EP Africa patents applications" has been improving, in view of the respective growing tendency of European patents granted.
Originally published 20 May 2020
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