Monday 14 December 2020

How many patent applications succeed?

 The question came up in my weekly seminar for students doing the University of London International Programme LLB IP module, and the answer is interesting - and quite easy to find in Patent Office statistics. The most recent statistics, published here, are for 2018 (with 2017 for comparison), give a great deal of detail but the headline is:

Applications Filed

Applications Published

Patents Granted







United Kingdom (total)







I had guessed that the number granted would be around half those applied for - but as you see I was a long way out, 50 per cent out I suppose: the numbers go down roughly by half at each stage, and I hadn't included publication as a stage in my estimate. It demonstrates the effectiveness of the system at attracting in applications, even if they don't proceed to grant.

How many of those granted patents are valid is another matter, and estimates (which is all you can expect to find) are pretty high. Tallying the number of successful validity challenges in reported cases is instructive, though: when I last counted it up, a few years ago, I recall that over half of patents in infringement cases were held to be invalid. But that might be my memory - time perhaps to sift through reports on Bailii again.

And no doubt it would be instructive to look at the comparable figures for the EPO, too. Another day.


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