The data appearing in the annual statistics published by the European Patent Office confirm Italy as one of the top ten countries for number of European patent applications filed per year.

The statistics, which quote the applications per country of residence of the applicant and technologies involved, show that Italy in year 2009 filed 3881 European patent applications, ranking ninth among the countries worldwide. More than one fifth of the Italian applications fell in the category of “Handling & processing” (835 applications), followed by those in the categories of “Civil engineering & Thermodynamics” (585), “Human necessities” (496) and “Vehicles & General technology”(439), to mention the main ones.

The first aspect to be emphasized is that, unlike most of the five European states preceding it in the list (Germany, France, Switzerland, UK and The Netherlands) Italy is a country characterized by small or medium size companies and consequently lacks the presence of big enterprises which alone file hundreds if not thousands of European patent applications per year.

The second aspect which should be pointed out is that in the last decade the growth rate of Italian filings of European applications (17%) has been higher than the one of US and Japan (both around 14%), which rank respectively as first and third applicant of European cases.

The increasing interest of Italy’s economy in patents is corroborated by the recent law developments in the IP field, which developments have seen the entry into force of the new Industrial property code in year 2005, the enactment of the Implementing regulations thereof in March of this year and the imminent entry into force of a legislative decree which should correct and update some aspects of the code, presumably also introducing some long-awaited innovations, for instance with respect to inventions created by employees of Universities and other public research centers.

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