25 Mar
2021

Sector trends

The tables are turned when it comes to automotive, conglomerates, medical devices/pharma and telecoms, where European companies boast a solid presence. Europe’s hand is also strong in aerospace and defence, with the likes of Airbus, Safran, Rolls-Royce and Thales all boasting hefty portfolios.

However, in other areas, Europe is falling behind. The semiconductor sector features just three European entities – NXP, STMicroelectronics and Infineon – which are unable to match industry leaders like Qualcomm and Intel. Telecoms is also led by foreign entities such as ZTE and Huawei. Finally, electronics is a largely Asian affair (including Samsung, LG, Sony, Canon, Hitachi and Panasonic) – with the exception of Apple.

Table 4 reveals a large number of pending applications across automotive and electronics. The patent rush in the auto sector can be attributed to companies seeking protection for technologies pertaining to autonomous driving and connected car technologies, specifically in relation to mitigating the risk from non-auto (ie, tech) players in this area. Foreign entities include Ford, GM and Denso, while local players include expected German names BMW and Volkswagen, as well as OEM suppliers ZF, Robert Bosch and Schaeffler Group.

Table 1. Sectoral dominance – European companies versus non-European companies based on cumulative granted patents

 Euro dominance over foreign entities grantsMajor European companies
Automotive~2.4 times moreVolkswagen, Schaeffler, Peugeot, Valeo, Renault, ZF, BMW
Conglomerates2.2 times moreRobert Bosch, Siemens, Thyssenkrupp
Medical devices/pharma1.4 times moreRoche, Philips, Bayer, Novartis, Sanofi
Telecoms~1.4 times moreEricsson, Nokia

Table 2. Top 30 applications to grants ratio

EntityEuropean grantsEuropean applicationsPercentage of overall applications to grants
Ford Motor Company3,51114,778420.9%
BMW4,40410,222232.1%
General Motors4,7888,217171.6%
ZF Friedrichshafen5,7497,649133%
Robert Bosch30,32640,037132%
Denso4,6175,968129.3%
Schaeffler Group15,44418,461119.5%
Volkswagen20,24122,603111.7%
Intel5,8675,58795.2%
STMicroelectronics3,4053,03289%
Mitsubishi Electric6,8686,01187.5%
Infineon Technologies4,8793,75476.9%
Carl Zeiss Stiftung4,2443,02371.2%
Apple4,3162,87366.6%
Sony Corporation9,7736,30864.5%
Hitachi6,3814,08864.1%
Samsung Electronics19,94512,48762.6%
Raytheon Technologies10,7796,54460.7%
Microsoft5,3003,18760.1%
Henkel3,9152,29958.7%
Siemens23,93513,75157.5%
General Electric12,5987,21357.3%
Huawei13,9727,92056.7%
Deere & Company3,6262,02355.8%
Hewlett Packard5,3362,90054.3%
Toyota Motor11,1255,83952.5%
Rolls-Royce Holdings3,9152,04452.2%
LG Corp18,0939,41052%
Thyssenkrupp4,9952,59752%
Valeo11,3975,89651.7%

Those in high-tech industries (eg, semiconductor, telecoms and electronics) include Intel (United State), STMicroelectronics (Switzerland), Infineon (Germany), Apple (United States), Sony (Japan), Hitachi (Japan), Samsung (South Korea), Microsoft (United States) and Huawei (China), all of which demonstrate significant filing activity in the region.

Figure 1. Overall granted patents in Europe for the top 100 players across each sector

Figure 2. Overall granted European patents for the top 100 players