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UN Report Highlights China’s Dominance in Generative AI Patent Race

ByYasmeeta Oon

Jul 3, 2024

UN Report Highlights China’s Dominance in Generative AI Patent Race

China is significantly ahead of other countries in the development and patenting of generative AI technologies, such as chatbots, according to data from the United Nations. The data reveals that China has filed six times more patents in this area than its closest competitor, the United States.

Generative AI is a rapidly growing field that involves the creation of text, images, computer code, and even music from existing information. Over the past decade, more than 50,000 patent applications have been filed for generative AI technologies, as reported by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This organization oversees a system that allows countries to share recognition of patents.

A significant portion of these patents was filed in the past year. In 2023 alone, a quarter of the total generative AI patents were submitted. Christopher Harrison, WIPO’s Patent Analytics Manager, commented on the rapid growth of this sector, emphasizing its potential for further expansion. “This is a booming area that is growing at increasing speed. And it’s somewhere that we expect to grow even more,” he told reporters.

Between 2014 and 2023, China filed more than 38,000 generative AI inventions. In contrast, the United States filed 6,276 patents in the same period. This vast difference underscores China’s dominant position in this technological race. The Chinese patents cover a wide range of sectors, including autonomous driving, publishing, and document management.

Other countries making significant contributions to generative AI include South Korea, Japan, and India, ranked third, fourth, and fifth, respectively. Notably, India is experiencing the fastest growth rate in this field.

RankCountryNumber of Patents Filed
2United States6,276
3South KoreaNot specified
4JapanNot specified
5IndiaFastest growth rate

Several major companies are at the forefront of generative AI patent filings. Among the top applicants are:

  • ByteDance: The Chinese tech giant known for its popular video app TikTok.
  • Alibaba Group: The Chinese e-commerce behemoth.
  • Microsoft: A significant backer of OpenAI, the creator of the widely known AI chatbot ChatGPT.

Chatbots that mimic human conversation are already widely used by retailers and other businesses to enhance customer service. However, the potential applications of generative AI extend far beyond customer interactions. WIPO’s Christopher Harrison highlighted several key sectors that could be transformed by this technology, including science, publishing, transportation, and security.

Harrison pointed out the profound impact that generative AI is expected to have across various industrial sectors. One notable example is in the scientific sector, where AI-created molecules could expedite drug development processes. “The patent data suggests this is an area that is going to have a profound impact across many different industrial sectors going forward,” Harrison stated.

Looking ahead, WIPO anticipates another surge in generative AI patent filings. The organization plans to release updated data in the near future, potentially utilizing generative AI technologies to illustrate the emerging trends.

  • China has filed six times more generative AI patents than the United States.
  • Over 50,000 generative AI patent applications have been filed globally in the past decade.
  • A quarter of these patents were filed in 2023 alone.
  • China leads with over 38,000 patents filed between 2014-2023.
  • Major contributors include ByteDance, Alibaba Group, and Microsoft.
  • Generative AI is poised to transform sectors such as science, publishing, and transportation.

The surge in generative AI patents highlights the rapid advancement and growing importance of this technology. China’s leadership in patent filings signifies its strong commitment to AI innovation. As generative AI continues to evolve, it is expected to bring about significant changes across various industries, paving the way for future technological breakthroughs. WIPO’s ongoing monitoring and analysis of patent data will provide valuable insights into the development and impact of generative AI on a global scale.

Featured Image courtesy of DALL-E by ChatGPT

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.

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