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Our Take on AI

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WIPO Report Reveals China Leads in Generative AI Patent Race

China is the global leader in generative AI (GenAI) patents, according to a recent World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Patent Landscape Report. Between 2014 and 2023, inventors based in China were responsible for more than 38,000 GenAI patent families. Notably, since 2017, China has published more patents in this field annually than all other countries combined. This dominance in GenAI patent activity may surprise those who only focus on the Western hemisphere's AI innovations.

While China leads in GenAI patent filings, other countries are also making significant contributions. As the WIPO report states, "With around 6,300 patent families between 2014 and 2023, the US is the second most important research location for GenAI patenting. The Asian countries Republic of Korea, Japan and India are other key research locations for GenAI, all ranking in the top 5 countries worldwide (third, fourth and fifth respectively)." Chinese companies like Tencent, Ping An Insurance Group, and Baidu are at the forefront, owning the most GenAI patents. However, U.S. tech giants such as IBM, Alphabet/Google, and Microsoft also feature prominently in the top 10 patent owners. The table below from the WIPO report documents the companies leading the way in GenAI patent ownership.

The WIPO report also provides insights into the specific types of GenAI models and applications dominating patent filings. According to the report, "Among these GenAI models, most patents belong to GANs. Between 2014 and 2023, there were 9,700 patent families of this model type, with 2,400 patent families published in 2023 alone. VAEs and LLMs are the second and third largest models in terms of patents, with around 1,800 and 1,300 new patent families respectively between 2014 and 2023." In terms of applications, GenAI patents span a wide range of sectors, including software, life sciences, document management, business solutions, and manufacturing.

China's patent dominance raises questions about the impact of different national strategies. While some countries prioritize regulatory frameworks, others seem focused on rapid innovation and deployment. The long-term consequences of these divergent approaches remain to be seen, but they will likely shape the future of AI development and adoption worldwide.

This WIPO Patent Landscape Report provides observations on patenting activity and scientific publications in the field of GenAI and builds on the 2019 WIPO Technology Trends publication on Artificial Intelligence. It aims to shed light on the current technology development, its changing dynamics and the applications in which GenAI technologies are expected to be used. It also identifies key research countries, companies and organizations.