Chinese generative AI patents top US 6-to-1 in last decade, UN data finds

Chinese generative AI patents top US 6-to-1 in last decade, UN data finds

China has surpassed the US in generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) patents, with six times as many filings in the decade from 2014 through 2023, according to a report published on Wednesday by a United Nations agency.

China’s 38,210 patent filings in the category make up about 70 per cent of the 54,000 filed in the past 10 years, according to data published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The US ranked second with 6,276 patent filings.

They are followed by South Korea, Japan and India, which had the highest average annual growth rate in patent filings at 56 per cent.

After Microsoft-backed OpenAI debuted ChatGPT in late 2022, there was an explosion of GenAI patents, with more than 25 per cent of such patents being filed in 2023 alone.

The growth of GenAI models in China coincided with global patent expansion in this area. Chinese companies have introduced more than 200 large language models to the market, a result of the ChatGPT-frenzy that prompted a bevy of local Big Tech firms and AI start-ups to seek their own answer to the viral US chatbot.

The mad scramble in the AI race pushed Chinese firms to become some of the most prolific patent filers, making up six of the top 10 GenAI patent applicants. These include Chinese social media and video gaming powerhouse Tencent Holdings, Post owner Alibaba Group Holding, TikTok parent ByteDance, search engine and AI giant Baidu and Ping An Insurance, in addition to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Shenzhen-based Tencent was ranked the world’s top GenAI patent applicant, with 2,074 filings. Baidu, Alibaba and ByteDance had 1,234, 571, and 418, respectively, coming in No 3, 6, and 9 on the list.

Given the breadth of technologies that could be considered part of GenAI, WIPO used numerous terms to identify these patents, including “generative adversarial network”, “large language models”, and “diffusion model”. It also used a modified GenAI model to help with identification.

The WIPO report said technologies covered among the GenAI patents are meant for use in a range of areas. These include life sciences, which saw the most filings, as well as document management, business solutions, industry and manufacturing, transport, security, and telecommunications.

The organisation predicted that GenAI will be used to expedite the development of new drugs, automate document management tasks, and aid customer service bots.

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