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Green applications of space-borne sensing on the rise

You can access the report and other Patent Insight Reports by EPO and ESPI in collaboration with ESA at: https://www.epo.org/searching-for-patents/business/patent-insight-reports.html

The Patent Insight Report “Space-borne sensing and green applications” is part of a series of our joint studies with the European Patent Office and in collaboration with the European Space Agency. These publicly available studies analyse global patent filing data to identify major trends and developments in specific sub-domains of the space sector.

In this particular report we address the domain of space-borne sensing with a particular spotlight on green applications, which include uses of remote sensing data to support the mitigation of climate change, forecast weather, detect pollution, protect biodiversity, and monitor the environment. The study highlights the use of space-borne sensing as an indispensable tool for effectively implementing green policies and objectives.

The analysis of global patent filing statistics highlighted the following key trends:

  • Filings in green applications of space-borne sensing increased by 1 800% in 2020 versus 2001 (cf. 400% growth in global patent filings in all technology fields).
  • Chinese applicants submit the highest number patent filings (mainly domestic), while U.S. applicants lead in international filings.
  • Majority of patent applications related to signal processing (software rather than hardware).
  • Patenting in Europe is stagnating, with most filings from France, Germany, and the UK


Article published in collaboration with:

The European Patent Office examines European patent applications, enabling inventors, researchers and companies from around the world to obtain protection for their inventions in up to 44 countries. The EPO is the executive arm of the European Patent Organisation, an international organisation with 38 member states. The EPO’s activities and budget are overseen by the Organisation’s Administrative Council, which consists of representatives of the member states.


The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation with 22 member states. It is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.


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