Patent applications claiming rights of priority 2017–2021
Exploitation of intellectual property rights
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft remains the leader among German research institutions in terms of its annual number of invention disclosures, new patent applications, and total volume of industrial intellectual property rights. The position achieved by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is outstanding even when compared with that of industrial companies. Over the last decade, Fraunhofer has always ranked among the German Patent and Trade Mark Office’s 10 to 20 most prolific patent applicants. Fraunhofer is also among the European Patent Office’s most active patent applicants.
In 2021, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft employees submitted 604 invention disclosure reports. They filed 521 patent applications claiming rights of priority with the relevant patent offices, which corresponds to a rate of around two patents per working day. The Fraunhofer portfolio of active patent families, each of which comprises all intellectual property rights in different countries, remained close to the previous year’s figure at 7,620. To guarantee ongoing exploitation of intellectual property rights, Fraunhofer is continuing its efforts to group patents owned by different institutes into portfolios that are then offered to selected companies. This approach creates new opportunities to generate income from licensing agreements and R&D projects.
As a rule, Fraunhofer generates revenue from the commercial exploitation of intellectual property (IP) rights, not only by concluding licensing agreements, but also by including intellectual property within patent pools. The most successful of these pools consist of patents for audio and video encoding. In conjunction with other parties from different countries that hold patents that are relevant to standards, Fraunhofer uses various patent pools to issue licenses on a worldwide basis, enabling the exploitation of patents in well over 100 countries. The income from these pools is reinvested in pre-competitive research, thus helping strengthen Germany’s position as a research hub for the long term. In 2021, Fraunhofer concluded 395 new IP exploitation agreements, bringing the total number of active agreements at the end of the year to 3,090. After a decline in the previous year, license-fee revenue has once again increased, reaching €114 million in 2021