DP5970 When Small is Beautiful: Measuring the Evolution and Consequences of the Voluminosity of Patent Applications at the EPO

Author(s): Eugenio Archontopoulos, Dominique Guellec, Niels Stevnsborg, Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Nicolas van Zeebroeck
Publication Date: December 2006
Keyword(s): patent applications, patent drafting, patent statistics, patent systems, patent voluminosity, workload
JEL(s): O31, O34, O50
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5970

The joint increase in the number and size of patents filed around the world puts patent systems under pressure. This paper addresses issues in measuring the voluminosity of patent applications and highlights patterns in its evolution. The results - based on a 2 million EPO applications database - show that the average size of applications has doubled over the past 20 years and that it is mainly associated with PCT applications having a US priority. Voluminosity indicators are also influenced by geographical origins and technological areas and strongly impact the workload of the EPO, justifying the need for regulatory and policy actions.