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In October 2022 the publication of the industry Patent Quality Charter, signed by dozens of the world’s top filers, was met with allegations that the substantive patent quality at the European Patent Office (EPO) has suffered in recent years as a result of its prioritisation of efficiency. Industry leaders, such as Deutsche Telekom’s patent head, Alexander Haertel, and Siemens’ IP chief, Beat Weibel, have given voice to these criticisms in interviews with IAM, while the Staff Union of the EPO recently echoed them, even as the office issues a denial. Other signatories of the charter include Ericsson, Nokia, Bayer, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Qualcomm, HP and Vodafone. Nevertheless, the office remains a globally popular venue for filing. Indeed, 2022 saw a 2.5% increase in patent filings at the EPO for a total of 193,460 patents filed over the year. Technology fields lead the pack in filing numbers: digital communication saw 16,705 filings, while medical and computer technology both came out at over 15,000. These numbers are also reflected in the priorities of the leading filing companies: Huawei, LG, Qualcomm, Samsung and Ericsson make up the top five. The biggest growth area is electrical machinery, apparatus and energy, a field that includes clean energy inventions and battery technology. This sector saw 18.5% growth, to become the fourth largest technical field by filing numbers.
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