4iP News

4iP Council’s consolidation of data on patent invalidity shines a spotlight on patent quality in Europe

14 November 2016

In 2015 only 1 in 17,500 (0.006%) of all patents in force in Germany were declared invalid by a court

4iP Council has consolidated available data on patents in Germany in 2015 to provide a fresh picture on invalidity rates. This work takes the shape of an infographic and follows the recent publication of numerous papers by eminent authors radically overturning an assumption that patent invalidity rates in Europe are high.

The core finding of 4iP Council’s work is that patent invalidity rate in Europe are extremely low. In 2015, just 1 in 17,500 (0.006%) of all patents in force in Germany were declared invalid by a court. Research findings show similar results for patents in other jurisdictions.[1]

Germany was used for 4iP Council’s analysis because no other European Patent Organisation (EPO) member state has so many applications pending before the EPO as Germany. This makes Germany a focus for debate on patent invalidity.

To create the infographic 4iP Council examined all patents in force in Germany in 2015 (600,498), patents granted[2] (82,461), infringement cases p.a.[3] (1200), and patents subject to nullity proceedings[4] (217) to arrive at 34 invalidated patents[5].

“4iP Council is shining a spotlight on the high quality of patents in Europe because inappropriate conclusions on patent invalidity reduce patent value, jeopardise investment in innovation – notably for SMEs - and threaten the system unjustly,” said 4iP Council Chairperson, Claudia Tapia.

The 4iP Council infographic shows patent quality in Europe to be indisputably high. EPO user ratings reflect a similar conclusion. In 2016 and for the fifth consecutive year, users rated the EPO highest for quality among the world’s five largest patent offices[6].

About 4iP Council

4iP Council provides robust third party empirical research to facilitate a deeper understanding of the invention process and of technology investment decision-making. https://www.4ipcouncil.com.

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For further information contact:

Emma Bluck, emma.bluck@goldsparkconsulting.com, tel: +33 640733941 Sara Martinez Cadenillas, s.martinez@4ipcouncil.com, tel: +34 625836997



[1] See Ann, Patent Invalidation and Legal Certainty - What Can Patent Holders Expect?, July 5, 2016; Cremers, Gaessler, Harho_ and Helmers, Invalid but Infringed? An Analysis of Germany’s Bifurcated Patent Litigation System. Working Paper, August 1, 2014; Helmers and McDonagh, Patent litigation in the UK. LSE Law, Society and Economy working papers 12/2012; Hüttermann,

Patents - Paper Tigers or Real Tigers? Mitteilungen der deutschen Patentanwälte 2016, 101, May 2, 2016; Kuhnen and Claessen, Die Durchsetzung von Patenten in der EU – Standortbestimmung vor Einführung des europäischen Patentgerichts, GRUR 2013, 592-597; Tapia, Assessing the quality of European patents, IAM Magazine, Issue 80, 2016.

[2] Patents granted in Germany in 2015: 14,795 German patents and 67,666 EP patents validated in Germany

[3] See German Federal Patent Court 2014 Annual Report, at https://www.bundespatentgericht.de/cms/media/Oe_entlichkeitsarbeit/Veroe_entlichungen/Jahresberichte/jahresbericht_2014.pdf at p.126.

[4] BIPMZ 2016, German Patent and Trade Mark O_ce, at p.86. This does not include patents

pending in opposition.

[5] Ibid

[6] IAM IP market benchmarking survey, IAM Magazine issue 78, July/August 2016, available at

http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2016/20160602a