Year after year, ESA develops vast array of innovative, highly sophisticated technologies and applications to make Europe’s space endeavours happen. When ESA staff members are involved in devising an innovation or invention, then the Agency is free to apply for a patent, typically patenting between 10-20 inventions per year.
The resulting portfolio of around 530 patent applications and patents is overseen by ESA’s Patents Group, managed by the Technology Transfer and Patents Office.
ESA files patents because we believe it is in the interest of the space industry to protect them: to prevent others claiming credit to our work, allowing European companies to make use of them free of charge and to reinforce ESA’s position in terms of cross-licensing – the exchange of licenses with other patent holders.
ESA makes its intellectual property available on a freely-licensed basis to European space companies within its 22 Member States. For use by companies outside of ESA Member States, or for non-space applications, a different licensing model is in place, allowing the Agency to request royalties.
ESA’s patent portfolio is available in an online catalogue, linked below, to help promote their use. As one of the few agencies operating across all sectors of space, our portfolio ranges across subjects such as radio-frequency payloads and systems, structures and pyrotechnics, electromagnetic technologies and techniques, materials and processes, robotics, optics, electrical power and propulsion.
Prominent examples of ESA patents that have been taken up by industry include the DVB-S2 standard, used for the transmission and reception of broadcast data, the non-invasive millimetre-wave scanner for security body scans and method for compression and analysis of telemetry data.
Companies interested in making use of an ESA patent can get in contact with firstname.lastname@example.org.