China far ahead of rest of the world in generative AI patents

3 Jul 2024

Image: © Nikolay N. Antonov/Stock.adobe.com

A report by WIPO published today shows that China was the source of more than six times as many generative AI patents as the US between 2014 and 2023.

China is leading the world in the number of generative AI patents filed in the last decade according to a UN agency report published today (3 July).

Of the 54,000 generative AI inventions between 2014 and 2023, more than 38,000 were filed by inventors in China, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) report.

This places China far ahead of the US, its closest competitor, which has filed about 6,300 patents. South Korea, Japan and India filled out the rest of the top five spots, with India showing the highest average annual growth rate at 56pc.

Generative AI, also known as GenAI, allows users to create content such as text, images, audio and even video based on prompts. Companies that have pioneered the technology in recent years include OpenAI, Anthropic, Stability AI, Mistral and Midjourney.

According to WIPO, the use of generative AI has spread across industries including life sciences, manufacturing, transportation, security and telecoms.

The report shows that more than a quarter of all generative AI patents since 2014 were published last year alone. However, in 2023 generative AI patents only represented 6pc of all AI patents globally.

WIPO director-general Daren Tang said that generative AI has emerged as a “game-changing technology” with the potential to transform the “way we work, live and play”.

“Through analysing patenting trends and data, WIPO hopes to give everyone a better understanding of where this fast-evolving technology is being developed and where it is headed,” Tang said.

“This can help policymakers shape the development of GenAI for our common benefit and to ensure that we continue to put the human being at the centre of our innovation and creative ecosystems.”

Companies leading the charge in generative AI patents according to WIPO are Tencent, Ping An Insurance, Baidu, Chinese Academy of Sciences, IBM, Alibaba, Samsung, Google parent Alphabet, TikTok parent ByteDance, and Microsoft.

“We are confident that the report will empower innovators, researchers and others to navigate the rapidly evolving generative AI landscape and its impact on the world,” Tang said.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

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