The European Patent Office (EPO) has revealed in its annual report for 2016 that European patent filings in pharmaceuticals decreased by 5%.
The report also showed that European patent filings in biotechnology increased by 0.3% last year.
In the UK, the pharmaceutical-related patent applications filed at the rose 20.9% in biotechnology and 3.7% in pharmaceuticals.
A total of 5,744 biotechnology-related patent applications and 5,754 pharmaceutical-related patent applications were filed with the EPO last year compared to 2015, when there were 5,724 and 6,055 respectively.
Intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk patent attorney and partner Dr Paul Chapman said: “Despite the small decrease in biotechnology and pharmaceutical European patent filings from around the world, there was in fact an increase in filings coming from the UK, with a significant increase in the biotechnology field.
“Although the leading filers in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals may currently be found in mainland Europe, the figures suggest that UK-based filers may be catching up.
“The challenges Brexit will likely provide for UK-based companies are well known, but hopefully it will also offer opportunities.
"The biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors are reliant on a strong IP system. Filing patents through the European Patent Office and utilising the current European Patent Convention system will not change post-Brexit.”
Biotechnology and pharmaceuticals were ranked the tenth and ninth strongest sector, respectively, for European patent applications worldwide.
The Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM), Novartis and Merck were the leading filers of European patents in pharmaceutical technology, while Hoffman-La Roche, Inserm and Novozymes were the leading filers of European patents in biotechnology.