Technology Classification: the key to the International Patent Classification

Ragnhildur Þórarinsdóttir


One way to assess innovation is to look at the number of patents and the sector they belong to. However, it can be problematic to use the International Patent Classification (IPC) scheme for this purpose, as it is composed of a vast number of categories and subcategories interconnected according to complex rules, without any obvious connection to real world sectors.

To give a clearer view of the fields and sectors of patents, a key has been developed where the IPC-categories are divided into 35 defined technical fields*. In 2020, this key was applied to the ISIPO's patent data for the first time, providing a better understanding of the composition of patents in Iceland.

About half of the 8,868 valid patents on December 31st 2020 concerned the field of pharmaceuticals, and more than three quarters the chemistry sector. The division by sectors and fields is shown in more detail in the enclosed diagram.

When looking only at the 83 valid patents held by Icelandic parties, more than half of them belong to the sectors of mechanical engineering and instruments. This is in coherence with an analysis of valid Icelandic patents from 2020, showing that the majority of these patents were associated with the fishing industry, mainly fishing and processing, where advancements in machinery and automatization have played a significant role, leading to enormous progress in recent decades.

* Source: WIPO IPCTechnology Concordance Table


About one-fifth of Icelandic patent applications are related to the fisheries industry


Opportunities and value in the protection of intellectual property