R&D trends in Germany – patent statistics as an innovation indicator

The current figures provide an insight into the research and development landscape and are important indicators of innovation and potential economic growth.

Patent applications provide an insight into the research and development landscape and are therefore indicators of innovation and possible economic growth. There are many reasons why it is important for companies, research institutions or inventors to protect their intellectual property rights by applying for patents. Patents help patent holders to protect their technical invention from imitators and to defend themselves against imitators.

IP rights enable companies to position themselves by protecting a technology that, in the best case, guarantees market leadership. By holding patents, researchers and developers can demonstrate a pioneering role in their field of research or industry and inspire customers or partners with their innovative strength. Of course, patents also represent real value: They can be sold or used to generate licence income.
Indicators such as R&D input, the number of patents, patent citations and product announcements are proven and reliable indicators of innovation performance for investors such as venture capitalists, business angels and banks. They make a significant contribution to increasing the chances of obtaining outside capital.

Last spring, white ip Patent & Legal reported on the development of patent applications in Germany in 2022. The latest patent statistics from the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, which were published in March 2024, now provide an interesting insight into the performance of the German economy in 2023.

Development of patent applications in Germany in 2023

The number of patent applications in Germany rose again for the first time in 2023. While there were 67,905 registrations in 2019, the number fell to 57,214 in 2022. In 2023, the number of national German patent applications rose again slightly to 58,656. More than half of these (38,469 patent applications) originate from Germany.

It is a positive development that the portfolio of patents granted for Germany rose from 142,659 to 148,359 patents at the end of 2023.

Most patent applications in 2023 once again came from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. With 14,648 and 10,805 applications respectively, these federal states are responsible for more than half of all German patent applications (66.2 %). In the new German states, Saxony continues to lead the statistics – however, the number of applications from the Free State fell from 592 to 544. The traditionally strongest area, electrical machinery and equipment, saw a decline in innovation (- 19.8 %). In compensation, Saxon researchers and companies recorded high growth in 2023 in the fields of measurement technology (+ 28.6 %) and computer systems (+ 12.5 %). Thuringia follows with 502 patents, with strong growth in medical technology (+ 6.8 %), optics (+ 17.1 %) and electrical machinery and equipment (+ 69.4 %).

Industry trends

Developments in the technology fields are again mixed. While the positive trend from last year continued in electrical machinery and equipment and electrical energy (+9.9%), the rise in computer technology slowed in 2023 (2022: +19.5%, 2023: -4.6%).

The negative trend continued in the area of machine elements, albeit to a lesser extent (2022: – 11.9 %, 2023: – 6.8 %). The transport (mechanical engineering, + 2.5 %) and measurement technology (instruments, + 3.4 %) sectors developed positively.

The top patent applicants 2023

The list of companies and institutions that secured patent rights was headed by five German companies in 2022: Bosch, BMW, ZF Friedrichshafen, Schaeffler Technologies and Mercedes-Benz Group. This changed in 2023. Although Robert Bosch GmbH continues to lead the field with 4,160 German patent applications in 2023, Mercedes-Benz Group AG secured second place, relegating Bayerische Motoren Werke AG to third place. GM Global Technology Operations LLC, a US company, took fourth place among the top patent applicants. ZF Friedrichshafen AG achieved 4th place.


Overall, the generally positive trend in patent applications is to be welcomed. However, in order to remain competitive, the German economy must continue to invest in research and development and increase its innovative strength.

By turning their ideas into innovations and patents, companies lay a solid foundation for their economic growth. Investments in research and development and the resulting patents increase companies’ intangible assets and open up new sources of income in the form of licence agreements.

We will be happy to advise you on the possibilities of using patents and other industrial property rights to increase the assets and value of your company.
In addition, we professionally determine the value of your existing patents and technologies.


Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt München (DPMA)


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01097 Dresden

Telefon: +49 (0)351 896 921 40

Marlén Mieth
Head of Business Development & Marketing