14 percent more patent applications in 2016


The Norwegian Patent Office received 2062 patent applications in 2016. The number of applications is at its highest level since 2009.

Patents, design and trademarks (Intellectual property rights) are often used as an indicator for creativity and as an output indicator for R&D and innovation, this is especially true for patents. However, there are a number of reservations about using such rights as output indicators in this field.

Foreign applicants will secure patents in Norway

The increase in the number of patent applications is largely due to forwarded international applications through the PCT-system. These accounted for 36 percent of total applications in 2016. The system is used mostly by foreign applicants who want to protect their solutions in other countries as well.

The number of patent applications from Norwegian applicants was 1195 and is also higher than in previous years. seven out of ten of the Norwegian applications in 2016 came from enterprises.

Fewer trademark applications

The number of trademark applications amounted to 15757 in 2016 and fell 5.6 per cent from 2015. This is mainly due to 15 per cent fewer applications from foreign applicants who wish to validate their trademark via the Madrid Protocol. Applications via the Madrid Protocol tend to vary a great deal from year to year. On the other hand, the long-term trend of increasing numbers of domestic applicants continued in 2016 and it accounted for 27 percent of all applications.

Stable number of design applications

There were 1229 applications for design protection in 2016, 1 percent more than the year before. Total number of design applications has been relatively stable in recent years. The number of applications sent directly to the Norwegian Patent Office has decreased somewhat from Norwegian applicants, but especially from foreign applicants. This was offset by the fact that more foreign applicants choose to apply for design registration in Norway through the Haag-system. Here, the number of applications increased by 7 per cent in 2016

Which fields are applied?

The Norwegian Patent Office uses the International Classification IPC to classify patents and patent applications. This classification is based on the invention’s technical character. Also for 2016, the largest group of applications has been for engineering, building/construction and thermodynamics, where most of the applications are related to oil and gas extraction.

Large companies go for patents

Patents are largely sought by either very small enterprises or very large enterprises, but large enterprises have on average more patent applications than small businesses. Large enterprises with at least 500 employees had an average of 5.8 applications per enterprise, while the average for enterprises with less than 20 employees was 1.4 applications.

Figure 1. Number of patent applications and enterprises, by size of enterprises. 2014-2016

Patent Applications 2014–2016 Enterprises 2014–2016
0 346 243
1-4 396 277
5-9 138 96
10-19 134 93
20-49 153 101
50-99 118 59
100-199 83 57
200-499 149 52
500+ 381 66
Missing 619 412

Small businesses focusing on design protection

Most design registrations are made by small enterprises with up to 10 employees. Among these are several persons that run their own business. The small enterprises accounted for 41 per cent of all design applications in the period 2014-2016, while the large enterprises with at least 200 employees accounted for only 6 per cent.

Figure 2. Number of design applications and enterprises, by size of enterprises. 2014-2016

Design applications 2014–2016 Enterprises 2014–2016
0 72 65
1-4 129 109
5-9 62 33
10-19 33 32
20-49 43 34
50-99 32 22
100-199 24 19
200-499 15 12
500+ 23 15
Missing 208 172

Most applicants from Architects and Technical consultants

Norwegian applications for intellectual property rights have been linked to Statistics Norway's data sources that contain information about enterprises' employment and industry. The results show, among other things, how application activity varies depending on industry affiliation. The industry that applies the most for patent is the group Architects and Technical consultants. The industry accounted for 24 per cent of all patent applications in the 3-year period 2014-2016. Other important industries with high level of patent applications include research and development, mechanical engineering, oil and gas services, as well as wholesale trade.

In terms of trademark and design, there are other industries that are dominant. Applications for these are most prevalent in trade, especially wholesale, but also retail.

Figure 3. Number of patent applications and enterprises, by main industries. 2014-2016

Patent applications 2014–2016 Enterprises 2014–2016
L68 Real estate activities 57 36
C25 Fabricated metal prod. 82 52
J62 Computer programming, consultancy 106 67
M74 Other professional, scientific and technical activities 118 93
C30 Other transport equipment 136 29
B09 Mining support service activities 163 50
G46 Wholesale trade 167 127
C28 Machinery and equipment 180 76
L72 Research and development 185 115
M71 Architecture, engineering act. 612 320