ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, registered more patent applications with the European Patent Office (EPO) than any other Swiss-based company in 2014. Switzerland remains top of the world rankings for the number of patents filed per million inhabitants.
ABB filed 450 patent applications with the EPO last year, followed by Nestlé, Alstom, Roche and Novartis, reflecting its strong track record in technological innovation. ABB employs more than 8,500 researcher and developers around the world and every year invests around $1.5 billion in R&D.
“Innovation has always been a key source of competitive advantage for ABB,” said Chief Technology Officer, Claes Rytoft. “Our technologies have helped to shape the industries in which we are active, and we are proud that, today, more than 120 years after ABB’s predecessor companies were founded, we remain at the forefront of technological development.”
In 2014, ABB marked the 60th anniversary of its development of high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission, an essential technology for efficiently transporting large amounts of power over long distances. It used the occasion to launch the world’s most powerful power transmission cable, a 525-kV extruded HVDC cable which doubles power flow and extends range significantly, better enabling remote sources of renewable energy to be integrated into the grid. On industrial automation side, it unveiled a new dual-armed industrial robot called “YuMi” that can work safely alongside humans for small-parts assembly. In April, YuMi will be officially launched at the Hanover fair, one of the world’s most important trade shows.
Patent filings at the EPO grew by 3.1 percent to a record high of 274,000 in 2014. Of those, 7,900 came from Switzerland, which translates in 848 patent applications per million inhabitants, the highest number in the world. Second in Europe was Finland with 416 applications per million inhabitants, followed by the Netherlands (406), Sweden (395), Denmark (354) and Germany (316).
“Demand for patent protection in Europe has now been rising for five years in a row,” said EPO president, Benoît Battistelli. “This shows that Europe has deepened its key position as a technology and innovation location for companies all over the world.”
ABB has one of its seven corporate research centers in Switzerland, near Baden, where it specializes in, among other technologies, power semiconductors, a field in which it is the world leader.
With almost 7,000 employees, the EPO is one of the largest European public service institutions. Its headquarters are in Munich and it also has offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna. The EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation between the European states in the field of patents. Through the EPO's centralized patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain patent protection in the 38 member states of the European Patent Organization on the basis of a single European patent application.
ABB (abb.com) is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility, industry, and transport and infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs about 140,000 people.