Mon 5th Dec 2016

EPO-EUIPO study confirms economic benefits of intellectual property

The results of a recent EU-wide study have been published by the European Patent Office and the EU Intellectual Property Office. The study analysed the impact of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on the European economy in terms of gross domestic product, employment, wages and trade.

Covering a broad range of intellectual property rights including patents, trade marks, designs, copyrights, geographical indications and plant variety rights, the study identifies industries that use these rights intensively. The study then quantifies the contribution of these industries to key European Union economic indicators such as gross domestic product, employment, wages and external trade.


Approximately half of all European Union industries are intellectual property intensive, according to the report. The top 20 of these industries are:

  • engineering;
  • financial services and insurance;
  • business and management consultancy;
  • real estate;
  • sports, amusement and recreation;
  • computer programming;
  • computer consultancy;
  • non-specialised retail;
  • manufacture of motor vehicles;
  • manufacture of parts and accessories for motor vehicles;
  • wholesale of machinery and equipment;
  • advertising;
  • furniture, lighting and household items retail;
  • non-specialised wholesale trade;
  • manufacture of furniture;
  • horticulture;
  • pharmaceuticals;
  • printing;
  • manufacture of outerwear; and
  • manufacture of plastic products.

The study finds that intellectual property intensive industries are accountable for approximately 90 per cent of the European Union’s trade and more than 42 per cent of total economic activity equating to an annual amount of €5.7 trillion. 38 per cent of all employment in the European Union, totalling 82 million jobs, also stem from these intellectual property intensive industries, and average wages are over 46 per cent higher than in other industries.


European Union industries appear to be strong in green technologies, particularly in climate change mitigation technologies. The study finds that while the sector employs 1.2 per cent of the European Union workforce, it generates 2.1 per cent of the economic output. European Union industries also show strength in design. The study finds that industries that use design intensively contributed more than €243 billion to the European Union external trade balance in 2013, generated 13 per cent of gross domestic products and PROVIDED 38.7 million jobs.


Benoît Battistelli, president of the European Patent Office, said, 'Our joint report confirms the benefits of patents and other IPRs for the European economy. Intangible assets are increasingly important for innovative companies today, especially for SMEs, but also for research centres and universities. They have a positive impact on jobs, economic growth and prosperity. In order to remain competitive in the global economy, however, Europe needs to further encourage the development and use of new technology and innovations.'


Click here to read the full study.


This briefing is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. We can discuss specific issues and facts on an individual basis and answer any questions you receive from others about Brexit. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this was first published in December 2016.


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