R&D expenditure of 4.5 billion euros Bosch ranks first in Europe with 838 patents in 2012 Innovations include snap electrodes for clean exhaust

  • Patents protect ideas and secure revenue
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  • March 06, 2013
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press release

Stuttgart/Munich/Brussels – The European Patent Office in Brussels announced on Wednesday that Bosch was ranked first for patents in Europe in 2012, with 838 patents granted to the company over the course of the year. The company currently holds a portfolio of more than 90,000 active industrial property rights. In total, Bosch filed more than 4,700 patents in 2012. The European Patent Office regulates the granting of property rights in the 38 member states of the European Patent Organization (EPOrg).

Bosch spends more than 8 percent of its sales on research and development, with R&D expenditure reaching 4.5 billion euros in 2012. More than 42,000 associates work in R&D worldwide, 20,700 of them in Germany. Patents protect the company’s innovations from being imitated, while licensing allows third parties to benefit from Bosch’s technological edge.

From patent to product: a long and winding road
Not every good idea leads to a patent, and not all patents go on to become products. The process is generally a long one. “One example is the snap electrode, which is part of our particulate filter for the clean combustion of biomass in the wood-burning stoves of private households,” says Dietmar Steiner, one of the inventors at Bosch.

High-voltage dust-catcher
While heating with renewable materials such as briquettes or wood pellets is carbon-neutral, the exhaust gas contains unwanted particulate matter. However, it can be removed by means of a particle separator. Steiner, a physicist in the research department in Schwieberdingen close to Stuttgart, explains how this works: a strong electric field is created in the exhaust pipe, as a result of which free charge carriers attach themselves to the dust. An electrode then attracts the charged dust particles, which stick to it.

Longer maintenance cycles thanks to snap electrodes
At some point, the electrode is so covered in dust that it has to be cleaned. Steiner and his project team first began to devise solutions in 2006. The dusty electrode can be briefly shaken by a bimetal element that folds over (“snaps”) as the stove heats up. As a result, the dust is shaken off the electrode into the stove’s ash pan.

“Our aim was to have a filter that required maintenance only twice a year, and we have achieved this,” Steiner says. The filter prevents more than 85 percent of particulate matter from being emitted. By using mass-produced parts that Bosch is able to manufacture in large numbers and to high quality standards, costs were significantly reduced. Lower limits on particulate matter will take effect in Germany from 2015. The new filter will make it possible to comply with them.

The first prototypes were built in 2006, and a patent was filed in 2008. In 2010, the snap electrode patent was published. It was then legally granted in 2011. A number of other companies in the heating industry have expressed interest in the technology, and licensing negotiations are currently underway.

Background information on patent statistics:
The statistics include all patents granted between January 1 and
December 31, 2012.

- For more information on the European Patent Organization
- For more information on patents at Bosch:
- Directive for small and medium-sized wood-burning stoves

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. In 2013, its roughly 281,000 associates generated sales of 46.1 billion euros. (NB: Due to a change in accounting policies, the 2013 figures can only be compared to a limited extent with the 2012 figures). Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 360 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 50 countries. If its sales and service partners are included, then Bosch is represented in roughly 150 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. In 2013, the Bosch Group invested some 4.5 billion euros in research and development and applied for some 5,000 patents. This is an average of 20 patents per day. The Bosch Group's products and services are designed to fascinate, and to improve the quality of life by providing solutions which are both innovative and beneficial. In this way, the company offers technology worldwide that is “Invented for life.”

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. 92 percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Additional information is available online at and,

PI8064 - March 06, 2013

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