IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Patent inflation in Europe


  • van Zeebroeck, N.
  • Stevnsborg, N.
  • van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, B.
  • Guellec, D.
  • Archontopoulos, E.


Patent filings worldwide have been subject to a combined growth in terms of the number of applications filed and their size. This is putting patent systems under tremendous pressure, as witnessed by the evolution of backlogs at several patent offices. The present article presents an analysis of the evolution in patent voluminosity observed at the European Patent Office (EPO) over the past two decades. The results demonstrate that the average size of applications has doubled during this period and that the largest influence comes from applications filed via the PCT route and/or with a US priority application. Voluminosity indicators are clearly influenced by geographical origins and technological areas. The increasing voluminosity has a significant impact on EPO workload and processing efficiency. There is therefore a justified need for regulatory action. Evidence from recent changes in US patent fee policy is shown to have a significant knock-off effect on voluminosity indicators.

Suggested Citation

  • van Zeebroeck, N. & Stevnsborg, N. & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, B. & Guellec, D. & Archontopoulos, E., 2008. "Patent inflation in Europe," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 43-52, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worpat:v:30:y:2008:i:1:p:43-52

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Archontopoulos, Eugenio & Guellec, Dominique & Stevnsborg, Niels & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno & van Zeebroeck, Nicolas, 2007. "When small is beautiful: Measuring the evolution and consequences of the voluminosity of patent applications at the EPO," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 103-132, June.
    2. Lazaridis, George & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno, 2007. "The rigour of EPO's patentability criteria: An insight into the "induced withdrawals"," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 317-326, December.
    3. Francesco SCHETTINO & Alessandro STERLACCHINI, 2007. "European Patenting and the Size of Inventors," Working Papers 308, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
    4. Schettino, Francesco & Sterlacchini, Alessandro & Venturini, Francesco, 2013. "Inventive productivity and patent quality: Evidence from Italian inventors," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 1043-1056.
    5. Harhoff, Dietmar & Wagner, Stefan, 2005. "Modelling the duration of patent examination at the European Patent Office," CEPR Discussion Papers 5283, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Eric J. Iversen & Aris Kaloudis, 2006. "IP-Valuation as a Tool to Sustain Innovation," Chapters,in: The Management of Intellectual Property, chapter 13 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Joachim Henkel & Stefanie Pangerl, 2008. "Defensive Publishing An Empirical Study," DRUID Working Papers 08-04, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Frietsch, Rainer & Schmoch, Ulrich & Van Looy, Baart & Walsh, J. P. & Devroede, R. & Du Plessis, M. & Jung, T. & Meng, Y. & Neuhäusler, Peter & Peeters, B. & Schubert, T., 2010. "The value and indicator function of patents," Studien zum deutschen Innovationssystem 15-2010, Expertenkommission Forschung und Innovation (EFI) - Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation, Berlin.
    2. Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 2011. "The quality factor in patent systems," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(6), pages 1755-1793, December.
    3. van Zeebroeck, Nicolas & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno & Guellec, Dominique, 2009. "Claiming more: the Increased Voluminosity of Patent Applications and its Determinants," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 1006-1020, July.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:worpat:v:30:y:2008:i:1:p:43-52. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.