Protective shield for the spirit of invention
236 new patent applications in 2013
Each year Endress+Hauser invests more than five million euros worldwide in the protection of intellectual property. This strengthens the Group’s position against its competitors – and spurs on the company’s inventors. The strategy proves successful: In 2013 Endress+Hauser filed initial patent applications for 236 new developments. The total number of ‘live’ patents and patent applications amounts to almost 5,700.
“We operate in an intensively competitive industry,” states Michael Ziesemer, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Endress+Hauser Group. “Our advantage is secured by innovative products – and in turn we can safeguard these innovations by protecting them with patents at a very early stage.” Michael Ziesemer, member of the Group’s Executive Board and responsible for patents, is therefore pleased with last year’s total of 236 patent applications; six more than in 2012.
In measurement engineering, the medium-sized company is one of the leaders amongst applicants for European patents. Endress+Hauser invests heavily in research & development in all fields of activity. Of the 720 employees working in this area, 365 were involved in filing an initial patent application last year.
Germany and the European Union, the United States and China are the countries in which Endress+Hauser has applied for patents and holds the majority of files. Only about one third of these patents are actually used, as Angelika Andres explains. The patent portfolio is therefore regularly reviewed, keeping an eye on markets of decreasing importance: “The older patents become, the higher the fees.”
A protective wall of patents
Even the 70 percent of patents that are technically unused nevertheless have an economic weight – “in order to stave off attacks from competitors,” as Michael Ziesemer explains. From time to time competitors believe that their industrial property rights have been infringed. “A large patent portfolio acts as a protective shield,” the Group’s COO confirms. The more patents a company can throw into the balance, the better the prospects in a dispute. “Our patents are our insurance.”