UK pharma and biotech patent filings surge, investor confidence sign?

The European Patent Office has reported a surge in pharmaceutical and biotechnology patents – potentially a sign of growing investor confidence in these sectors, according to IP firm Marks & Clerk

The European Patent Office (EPO) annual report shows a significant rise in patents filed by UK companies across the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector in 2017 – with biotech up 25.3% and pharma up 15.7%.

Thomas Zvesper, a Senior Associate and Chartered (UK) and European Patent Attorney for Marks & Clerk, said the sectors were clearly 'growth industries' both in the UK and worldwide.

UK companies that file at the EPO can protect its inventions across the EPO’s 38 member states.

He said: “There is more awareness of the need to file for patent protection and the latest figures from the EPO also suggest there is more research going on, and more money flowing into that research.

“When it comes to biotech, as a proportion of the overall costs patent protection is not a huge part of it. It’s not insignificant, but biotech research is expensive, so this growth in patent filings suggests that there’s more research going on, meaning that the funding streams and investment are growing at a much higher rate than they were previously.

“The global crash from 2007-2009 put a huge damper on investment in all areas, so it may be we are now seeing signs that we have come out of that to some extent and there is more confidence in investing.

“It will be in interesting to see if this is a blip or if this is the new benchmark, but either way it certainly suggests the innovation is out there.”

The UK was not the only area to report a rise in these sectors – the picture was reflected across the globe. The total number of patent filings at the EPO for biotech and pharma was up 14.5% and 8.1% respectively.

This year medical technology topped the list of the ten leading fields of technology in 2017 with 13,090 applications. Pharmaceuticals ranked 8th with 6330 applications while biotechnology ranked 9th with 6278 applications.

Full details of the annual report can be found here: