Standards can make an important contribution to this process by enabling the smooth exchange of data and promoting networking between a wide range of partners, or even making collaboration between them possible at all. This is the conclusion drawn by an analysis based on the IW Patent Database, which shows that companies that use the eCl@ss standard are drivers of innovation. eCl@ss users were involved in well over half the patents filed by legal entities in Germany in 2016. They are particularly active in digitilisation technologies. In Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, Germany’s most innovative states, regional patent activity is strongly driven by eCl@ss users. In addition, they are involved in over 85 per cent of cooperative patent applications throughout the country. This highlights the special ability of eCl@ss users to research and innovate in cross-company networks.

The following article uses the IW patent database to analyse the significance of companies that use the eCl@ss standard for patent activity in Germany. The different results depending on the group or company level as well as the role of large individual companies at the federal state level are examined.