MUNICH (dpa-AFX) - The end of the coronavirus pandemic has boosted the spirit of invention in Germany: Last year, domestic companies, research institutions and individual inventors applied for a total of 38,469 patents, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) in Munich announced on Tuesday. This was an increase of 3.4 percent compared to the previous year. Accordingly, 20,187 patent applications were received from abroad, which was slightly more than in the previous year. "The fact that the innovation activity of German companies is picking up noticeably is an encouraging sign in economically difficult times," commented Eva Schewior, President of the Munich Federal Office.

After the start of the coronavirus restrictions at the beginning of 2020, the number of domestic patent applications in particular fell for several years in a row. According to figures from the European Patent Office (EPO), which is also based in Munich, Germany also weakened in an international comparison, as the proportion of patents filed from Germany fell in relation to other countries.

The majority of applications are filed by companies, with the automotive industry continuing to play the most important role at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office: according to the DPMA, the ten companies with the most applications were all car manufacturers or suppliers: Robert Bosch GmbH was in first place with 4,160 patent applications alone, followed by Mercedes-Benz (2,046) and BMW (1,963). However, these statistics do not provide the complete picture, as some large German companies - including Siemens - prefer to apply for new patents at the European Patent Office rather than at the national authority.

In terms of federal states, Baden-Württemberg was far ahead at the DPMA - the headquarters of Bosch and Mercedes-Benz are also located there. The federal state received 14,648 patent applications, nine percent more than in 2022. Bavaria followed in second place with 10,805 applications.

The most important field of technology - at least in terms of sheer numbers - was still mechanical engineering with 40 percent of all applications. Electrical engineering contributed a good 30 percent. According to the Patent Office, this is mainly due to new developments in electrical machines and devices as well as in electrical energy. This area includes battery technology. In contrast, chemistry and construction declined.

A special feature of the DPMA with its almost 2,800 employees is that, unlike most other authorities, the office does not cost money, but generates high income. Last year, the surplus amounted to 216.4 million euros, which the office owes to its fees. The money flows into the federal budget. According to its own information, the DPMA is the largest national patent authority in Europe. In addition to Munich, it has offices in Jena and Berlin./cho/DP/zb