Expansion plug, airbag, stud boots: Independent inventors are still an “important part of the innovation landscape”

More than 2,500 patent applications by independent developers last year – DPMA President: "Independent inventors consistently give important innovative impetus."

Press release of 24 October 2022

Munich. Bavarian, mechanical engineer, male – this profile is particularly common among independent inventors in Germany. In 2021 every fourth patent application (24.6%) by an independent inventor came from Bavaria. Almost four out of ten inventions (38%) were attributable to the technology sector “mechanical engineering”. Only 7.3% of the applications came from women, as can be seen from an analysis presented today by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) on the occasion of the international inventors’ trade fair in Nuremberg (October 27th to 30th). The DPMA considers independent inventors to be persons who file patent applications on their own behalf and independently of companies or research institutions.

Last year, the DPMA received a total of 2,558 patent applications from independent inventors, representing a decrease of just over 9% compared to the previous year. However, the 2020 numbers had increased contrary to the long-term trend, obviously due to the pandemic. This was probably a result of the then significant increase in applications concerning face masks and protective clothing. The number of applications by independent inventors in 2021 returned to the pre-COVID-19 development, which had seen a constant decrease.

Bavaria ahead of North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg

“Expansion plug, boots with screw-in studs, airbag – the patent applications by independent inventors have consistently given important innovative impetus during Germany’s economic history. They are and will continue to be an important part of our innovation landscape,” DPMA President Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer said.

In the German Länder ranking, Bavaria (630 applications) was followed by North Rhine-Westphalia (455) and Baden-Württemberg (422), which came second and third, respectively. If the application numbers are expressed on a per 100,000 population basis, Bavaria (4.8 applications) took first place too. Second place went to Baden-Württemberg (3.8). Rhineland-Palatinate and Hamburg (3.5 each) came third.

If the applications numbers are broken down by technology sectors, “Mechanical engineering” came first with 971 applications, followed by the sectors “Other fields” (617), which combines different fields of technology, and “Instruments” (355). It is striking that only “Electrical engineering”, which came fourth, saw an increase in applications and accounted for an ever bigger share of the total applications (currently 13%).

The patent applications by independent inventors accounted for 7% of the national applications from Germany. By far most filings of inventions in Germany come from companies or research institutions. These are indicated as “applicants” in patent applications while the actual developer is indicated as the “inventor”. The DPMA considers applications to concern inventions of independent inventors if they indicate the same natural person both as the “applicant” and the “inventor”.

DPMA provides information at the iENA trade fair – patent attorneys provide advice to inventors

This year, at the international inventors’ trade fair iENA, the DPMA will again provide information on patents, utility models, trade marks and designs. At the four-day trade fair experts will be available to answer IP questions at our exhibition booth (hall 10.0, booth A 10). Furthermore, at our booth, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action will provide information on the WIPANO aid programme. Experts of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Bavarian Patent Centre will also be available to provide advice. On Saturday and Sunday, patent attorneys will provide initial consultations for inventors. Please visit the DPMA exhibition booth to make an appointment for a consultation.

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office

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.

Last updated: 24 October 2022