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Is Apple running out of ideas in Europe?

Tech giants such as Apple and Google are not filing many patent applications in the EU

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Figures released by the European Patent Office (EPO) Thursday showed the European Union IT sector lagging, but global tech giants also did not lead the way in patents last year.

China led in applications to the EPO for digital communication patents, but the EU also trailed behind Japan and the U.S. in the tech sector.

Samsung topped the list for most applications with 2,833. Google came in 50th and Apple did not make the list.

Flying the flag for Europe, Ericsson was listed 10th. Nokia was 19, showing a trend toward communications and mobile innovation, while Microsoft was 28th and Intel was 48th.

Of the 10 top technical fields for patent applications, digital communication was number three, with 9,101 applications, down 7 percent compared to 2012. In a close fourth position, computer technology was up 5 percent with 9,045 applications.

Medical technology and electrical machinery were the top two fields for patent applications, respectively.

The EPO granted the highest number of European patents ever last year, with 66,700, an increase of 1.6 percent over 2012. In total, the EPO received 266,000 applications, 2.8 percent more than in 2012. The U.S. and Japan again had the bulk of filings, while China, up 16.2 percent, and South Korea, up 14 percent, once more claimed the lion's share of growth.

"We feel that the results show a purely globalized innovative field where Europe is a player," said Chinese company Huawei, which was 11th with, 1,077 patent applications. "This increased competitiveness can only be seen as a positive and can only lead to more innovation."

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.



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