UK patents on the increase

While most patents granted by the UK Patent Office go to foreign-owned companies such as HP, home firms are still punching their weight

The importance of HP's research division, which took a hit earlier this month when it lost one of its main technology evangelists, was underlined this week as it took top spot in the annual league table for new UK patents.

HP topped the list with 294 UK patents issued in 2004. Last year, it had come second with 196 patents, behind NEC.

NEC was dumped down to third place this year as Visteon Global Technologies took second place with 247 new patents. Visteon is a specialist automotive parts supplier from Kerpen in Germany that manufactures, amongst other things, "environmentally friendly" air-conditioning systems for cars. It was one of three European companies to make the top ten.

Overall, the number of new UK patents increased by 8 percent in 2004 to 10,541, according to figures released by the Patent Office. And the UK did not do too badly in the overall number numbers; of the top 50 companies issued the most new patents, six came from the UK, 20 from the US and nine from Japan.

The highest-ranking UK group was communications and electronic sensor contract researcher Roke Manor which ranked 17 in the list.

The figures include all UK patents granted in 2004.

Pharmaceutical companies dominated the list for the most top trademarks registered, led by GlaxoSmithKline which received 150 trademarks, compared with 118 in 2003. Unilever received 93 compared with 104 in 2003.