Last year Switzerland filed more patent applications than the UK

Emma Haslett
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Dyson was one of the most prolific UK companies (Source: Getty)

More indication of the UK's woeful attitude to intellectual property: data by the European Patents Office has shown that in 2014, more companies in Switzerland (population: eight million) filed for patents than ones in the UK (population: 64.1m). In fact, Germany, France and the Netherlands all filed more applications.

Although to be fair, even Germany's mighty Mittelstand couldn't better the US, which filed 71,745 patent applications, more than a quarter of Europe's total. Next was Japan, which made 11 per cent of all European patent applications, followed by China and Korea, which made nine per cent and six per cent respectively.

That said, UK companies are clearly beginning to learn: the number of applications filed rose 4.8 per cent in 2014. So that's something.

When it comes to the most patent-hungry companies, the UK doesn't even get a look in. In fact, although European companies including Philips, Siemens and chemicals giant BASF made the top 10, Korea's Samsung was by far the most enthusiastic, filing 2,541 patent applications.

Of UK businesses, Unilever, Rolls-Royce and BT were among the top three - although as you can see from the chart below, the number is barely comparable to their Korean rivals'.

A pretty poor show, considering the UK's recent shift towards manufacturing and technology. Although that slight increase in the number of patents filed from UK businesses is encouraging, we've got a long way to go before we catch up with the US.

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