It is one of the key technologies for electric mobility and for the widespread use of renewables: In the past years, innovation activity in battery technology has soared. Last year, 4,651 patent applications effective in Germany were published – almost two and a half times more than five years earlier. From 2021 to 2022 alone, the number of applications increased by 35.2%. This is the result of an analysis carried out by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) on the occasion of this year’s DPMAnutzerforum 2023. The DPMA expects more than 500 participants to attend its key annual event, which will take place in the DPMAforum in Munich and will be live streamed on the DPMA’s YouTube channel for all interested persons.
In the international ranking, most battery technology patent applications published last year came from the Republic of Korea (1,155). In addition, the Republic of Korea was by far the most dynamic country in terms of innovation: In 2022, the number of applications was 69.9% higher than in the previous year. With 955 published patent applications, Japan ranked second. And German applicants came third (898 applications) in the German market. With a year-on-year increase of 11.3%, Germany was the least dynamic among the top five countries. The DPMA saw enormous increases in innovation activity relating to battery technology with respect to applicants from Asia and the United States: As regards the increase in the number of applications, second and third places went to the United States (+43.4%) and China (+40.6%), respectively. The fourth largest increase was achieved by Japan (+23.3%).
Two German carmakers among the top five 5 companies
The great innovative dynamism in Asia is also reflected in the ranking of the top companies in terms of applications: With a considerable lead, the Korean company LG Energy Solution, Ltd. (768 patent applications published in 2022) came first, ahead of the Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited (295). The German carmakers Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (175) and Volkswagen AG (125) came third and fourth, respectively, followed by the fifth placed Japanese company Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co., Ltd.
„Efficient and high-capacity storage systems are a must-have to achieve our climate protection and energy sovereignty goals. The great innovative dynamism in battery technology is therefore an encouraging sign,” DPMA President Eva Schewior said, and added: “But the technology as such is also of outstanding economic importance. The battery is now as important for an electric car as the engine used to be for a conventional car. We should therefore ensure that the innovative dynamism in this key technology will increase even more in Germany, too.“
Unlike storage technology, the innovation activity in the generation of renewable energy was stagnating. As in the recent past, the total number of patent applications published in 2022 concerning solar technology, wind generators, hydropower and geothermal energy and biogas technology was at the previous year’s level. While solar technology applications slightly increased, wind generator applications moderately decreased.
In the international ranking for 2022, German applicants are among the top applicants in the German market, as in the previous years. With regard to solar technology, Germany ranked first, ahead of the United States and China. As for wind generators, Germany ranked second, behind Denmark and ahead of the United States. As for geothermal energy/biogas and hydropower, technologies with significantly fewer applications, Germany came first and second, respectively.
Methodology: To do this analysis, published patent applications effective in Germany at the DPMA and EPO that relate to the technology fields mentioned have been considered, without double counting. Patent applications are published after 18 months. Accordingly, inventions newly filed in 2022 are not included in this analysis.
The analysis considers the most relevant technology classes (IPC). As there are no completely suitable classes to the individual fields, the analysis does not claim to be exhaustive. Furthermore, it may contain inventions that do not match the technology field considered.
This year, in addition to technology trends, the DPMAnutzerforum focuses, among other issues, on the European Unitary Patent. The new IP right with unitary effect in initially 17 countries will be introduced in June. In addition, the DPMA and the Federal Ministry of Justice will provide information on the latest trends and provisions concerning patents, utility models, trade marks and designs. Users can again get a lot of practical information on application procedures and services at the DPMA from lectures and workshops, too.
Inventiveness and creativity need effective protection. The DPMA is the German centre of expertise for all intellectual property rights – patents, utility models, trade marks and designs. As the largest national patent office in Europe and the fifth largest national patent office in the world, our office stands for the future of Germany as a country of inventors in a globalised economy. Its staff of just under 2,800 at three locations – Munich, Jena and Berlin – provide services to inventors and companies. They implement federal innovation strategies and develop the national, European and international protection systems further.