Biotechnology ranks third in patent applications in Spain in 2023

Applications in biotechnology have experienced a growth of 6.1% compared to the previous year, according to the latest report from the European Patent Office.

Industrial biotechnology

The European Patent Office (EPO) has recently published figures regarding patent applications filed globally in 2023. The report reveals that Spanish companies and inventors achieved a record by filing 2,111 applications with the EPO in that year, representing an increase of 2.9% compared to the previous year. The picture we observe of our country is very positive as it not only ranks above average (tenth in Europe and sixteenth worldwide), but also the comparison with data reported a decade ago indicates an increase of 43.5%.

The ranking of patent applications is led by the pharmaceutical industry, followed by the machinery, apparatus, and electrical energy sector. The third position is occupied by biotechnology. Patent applications in biotechnology increased by 6.1% in 2023 compared to the previous year (representing almost a quarter of the total), thus displacing medical technology to the fourth place, which experienced a decrease of 14.3%.

Cataluña holds the first position with 731 patent applications (34.6%) to the EPO. It is followed by the Comunidad de Madrid with 404 applications (19.1%) and the País Vasco with 262 applications.

At AseBio, we are very aware that protecting innovation is key for innovative entities and ensures their exploitation. Furthermore, it fosters technological advancements, collaboration between public and private entities on equal terms, and contributes to increasing investor interest. That is why we conduct an analysis every year on how our sector protects its innovation, included in our AseBio Report.

In line with the results published by the EPO, the report reveals that the Spanish biotechnology sector patents in Europe and internationally. In 2022, 544 applications and 99 patent grants were recorded in Spain. Biotechnological patents with Spanish priority or Spanish agent and client were identified in various patent offices (OPEM, EPO, USPTO, JPO, and WIPO).

The sector continues to choose to protect its innovations mainly through the European Patent Office (EPO) and international PCT patents, a trend that has persisted since 2013.

The sector has predominantly chosen to protect its innovations in the European environment with 222 patents and 196 via PCT, while there were 166 patents at the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office, a higher figure than the previous year.

The majority of patents in the biotechnology sector were applied for via international PCT patents, accounting for 36%. This was followed by patent applications at the European Patent Office with 35%, 21% protecting their patents at the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office, 7% at the US office, and 1% at the Japanese Patent Office.

Furthermore, joint ownership remains the primary route for patenting. Patenting in collaboration through joint ownership, with 215 applications and 45 grants, remains the most common ownership regime in the biotechnology sector. This is followed by patents with ownership by a single company with 152 applications and 30 grants, and universities, although more distantly, with 84 applications and 13 grants.