Firms - PatVal2, use of patents in EU



SME are more active in commercial use and licensing compared to large firms

The PatVal2 survey provides recent evidence on the combination of reasons and actual use of patents in in 20 European countries, Israel, USA and Japan.


The survey was conducted as part of the InnoS&T project (Innovative S&T indicators combining patent data and surveys: Empirical models and policy analyses), cofunded by the VII research programme (7FP) by the European commission (EU contribution: 1.391.000 euro). It involved more than 22.000 inventors.

The project, coordinated by Italy, aims to develop and collect novel science and technology indicators covering Europe, Japan, the United States and Israel.


According to the survey, there are different reasons for patenting, which vary with firm size. Licensing is less important for large firms compared to SME, while defence is more relevant for large and medium-sized firms than for small firms.

Looking at the use of patent, the results show that commercial use represents the most frequent patent use (55%), followed by licensing (7%), new firm creation (4%), and patent sale (4%).

SME are more active in commercial use and licensing compared to large firms, which have the largest shares of unused patents in their portfolio. It is probably due to the large size of their patent portfolio, which increases the likelihood product managers are not fully aware of all patents owned by their organisation. Moreover, the size of the patent portfolio and consistent financial resources make large firms less exposed to the risk of legal attacks by competitors.

The PatVal2 survey points out that the existence of several sleeping patents should be a target of patent policies aiming to improve the valorisation and diffusion of new technologies.

Photo credit: European Patent Office - European Inventor Award / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND