Scottish IP expert hails consistent growth in granting of energy patents



Douglas Rankin

Marks & Clerk has hailed significant growth in the number of UK-based energy businesses successfully securing European patents.

The UK has enjoyed a consistent rise in energy-related European patents with the number of patents granted by the EPO in the energy sector having nearly doubled since 2008. The volume of patents applied for has also increased by nearly 40 per cent since 2008.

Newly released data from the European Patent Office (EPO) found that ‘electrical machinery, apparatus, and energy’ was the fourth most patented technical field in 2017, behind only medical technology, digital communication, and computer technology.

It also showed that two UK-based energy companies were among the biggest patentees across all sectors.

British Petroleum ranked in 12th place while Infineum International took 19th place, up from 44th and 23rd respectively in 2016.

A total of 7,776 European patents were granted last year in the area of electrical machinery, apparatus and energy, with the UK making up 2.49 per cent of that.

Douglas Rankin, a partner at Marks & Clerk’s Aberdeen office, believes that this encouraging performance reflects increasing innovation in the sector amid a changing landscape, not only as the oil and gas market adjusts to lower oil prices which has been driving efficiency improvements, but also as we see the increased adoption of renewables and distributed power generation.

He said: “The energy sector globally is undergoing a revolution as it adapts to meet changing patterns of demand, costs and increasingly stringent environmental safeguards. It’s clear that those companies and innovators who can get themselves to the fore of this revolution stand the best chance of success so it’s encouraging to see the upward trend in energy patents coming from the UK.

“As the UK’s energy companies continue to invest in innovation, it’s crucial that they continue to protect their ideas. The sustained rise in patents being granted by the EPO over the last decade is to be welcomed therefore as a clear sign of continued investment in the energy technology that will shape the country’s future.

“By filing with the EPO, UK-based energy innovators are protecting their IP both at home, and in key overseas markets, ensuring British innovation is successful globally.”