By Alberto Visentin, Patent Examiner, European Patent Office
This article will look at what trends can be gleaned from patent application publication figures of the past decade in the sector of PV technology. The study looks at the number of patent applications in PV technology published worldwide between 1999 and 2008. The data will show in which regions and countries patent protection is being sought. The figures are taken from patent documentation databases developed by the European Patent Office (EPO) and Japan Patent Office or databases used worldwide and available at the EPO, and they are retrieved mostly using patent classification schemes. The article also provides a brief overview of the role of the EPO and what companies, researchers and individual inventors should keep in mind when applying for a European patent.