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The U.S. Continues to Fall Behind China in the Race for Generative AI Patents, With China Overwhelmingly Leading the Field

  • Between 2013 and 2023, Chinese organizations filed more than 38,000 patents.

  • Meanwhile, U.S. organizations filed around 6,300 patents in the same period.

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While the U.S. might be home to some of the world’s most well-known generative AI companies, China is leading in the number of patents for inventions in the field. According to the latest report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Asian country has filed more generative AI patents every year since 2017 than all other regions of the world combined.

Chinese organizations presented more than 38,000 patent families–a group of patents that cover the same or similar technical content–between 2014 and 2023. This positions China at the top of the ranking in this field, surpassing the U.S., which holds the second spot. In addition, the Asian country has had an impressive annual growth rate of 50% in the last few years.

The U.S. Filed Far Fewer Patents

In the same time period, U.S. organizations filed around 6,300 patent families, followed by South Korea, Japan, and India. In Europe, the UK is the first European country to appear in the ranking, although it’s in sixth place with 714 patent families.

The report also presents some other interesting data. For example, Germany ranks seventh with 708 patent families, but it stands out for having published more patents in recent years, with the possibility overtaking the UK in the future. India has a growth rate of 56%, higher than China, although it’s far from the top positions.

China AI

An interesting way to visualize this trend is by breaking down the data to an organizational level. In this case, Chinese organizations appear at the top. Tencent Holdings, which has launched its own chatbot for its local market, is in first place. The company is followed by the insurance firm Ping An Insurance.

Baidu, also known as “the Chinese Google,” is in third place. One of its best-known AI projects is the Ernie chatbot, which quickly gained users. Fourth place goes to the Chinese Academy of Science. IBM, the first U.S. company on the list, is in fifth place.

Ai 2 Top organizations with generative AI patents between 2014 and 2023. | Image: WIPO

It should be noted that IBM has been involved in the field of AI for decades. In recent years, it’s also focused on enhancing its Watsonx platform with generative AI capabilities for its business customers. Moving on to the U.S. organizations, Google (Alphabet) is in eighth place with its Gemini project. Microsoft takes the tenth spot.

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Microsoft is a major player in the AI revolution, with its investments and cloud infrastructure driving the growth of OpenAI, a key name in generative AI. Interestingly, the World Intellectual Property Organization reports that the company led by Sam Altman didn’t file patents until early 2023, possibly due to its nonprofit origins.

The creators of ChatGPT, which now has a commercial focus that was not initially planned, are gearing up to launch more innovations, including a Her-style voice mode and the Sora video generator. However, only the future will tell whether China will emerge as a global leader in generative AI beyond its patent applications.

Image | Steve Johnson | Engin Akyurt | Frimufilms via Freepik | WIPO

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