Trend: Fewer patent applications for internal combustion engines


The change in the automotive industry can be seen in numerous parameters. The development of new internal combustion engines has not – yet – come to a standstill, but is no longer a top priority. Research and development budgets are being shifted from gasoline and diesel engines to electromobility. This becomes clear, among other things, in the evaluation of patent applications presented by the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA).

Accordingly, the number of patent applications from all over the world for internal combustion engines fell by 15 percent to 3,128 last year. The USA and France as well as the rest of the world saw declines in the double-digit percentage range.

In the case of batteries, however, there was an increase of 20 percent to 3,214 registrations, and in the case of electric motors, patent applications rose by almost eight percent to 701. Only in the case of fuel cells did the patent office record 668 applications, a decrease of a good fifth. The patent applications with effect for Germany with the German and the European Patent Office, which is also located in Munich, were counted. The evaluation is contained in the new annual report of the Patent and Trademark Office, which the authority published.

Most of the registrations in all areas came from Germany. That doesn’t mean that the German auto industry is also the world leader in patent applications. Because patent fees are expensive, most companies register their developments in their home country and a few selected industrialized countries. Overall, the Patent and Trademark Office reported a presumed corona-related decrease in registrations of almost eight percent for all areas of technology in 2020.


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