Last year, the European Patent Office (EPO) issued far fewer patents than in 2006. The Munich patent authorities have announced that they approved exactly 54,699 patent applications for commercial protection, 12.9 per cent fewer than in the previous year. EPO President Alison Brimelow says the drop is the result of a new focus on the quality of patents rather than quantity; patent applications actually increased by 3.9 per cent to 140,700. She said her office is making sure that the temporary monopoly rights granted are actually relevant. She says the figures show that the EPO is headed in the right direction.

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