China takes the lead in generative AI patents, says UN report

China is setting the pace in the race for generative AI patents, outpacing all other nations by a significant margin. According to a recent report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), China has filed six times more patents in the field than its closest competitor, the United States. 

Generative AI is rapidly gaining momentum, with over 50,000 patent applications submitted in the past decade. A striking 25% of these patents were filed in 2023 alone, highlighting the exponential growth of this technology. “This is a booming area that is growing at an increasing speed. We expect it to expand even further,” said Christopher Harrison, WIPO Patent Analytics Manager, during a press briefing.

Between 2014 and 2023, China filed more than 38,000 generative AI inventions, while the United States submitted 6,276 during the same period. The applications from China span a wide range of sectors, including autonomous driving, publishing, and document management, demonstrating the country’s comprehensive approach to AI innovation. South Korea, Japan, and India rank third, fourth, and fifth respectively in the generative AI patent race, with India showing the fastest growth rate. 

Leading the charge among applicants are prominent Chinese companies like ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, and the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. Microsoft’s involvement as a backer of OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, also places it among the top contenders.

Generative AI chatbots are already revolutionizing customer service by mimicking human conversation, but their potential extends far beyond retail. Harrison emphasized that generative AI could transform numerous economic sectors, including science, publishing, transportation, and security. Specifically, in the scientific realm, AI-generated molecules could accelerate drug development, illustrating the profound impact this technology could have.

“The patent data indicates that generative AI will have a significant influence across various industrial sectors in the future,” Harrison noted. WIPO anticipates a new wave of patent filings soon and plans to release future updates, potentially using generative AI to highlight emerging trends. This ongoing innovation underscores the transformative potential of generative AI in reshaping industries worldwide.

Written by Jordan Bevan


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