Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Friday, October 23, 2020
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China Dominates AI Patent Filings 

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China’s patent office accounted for nearly two-thirds of all AI applications received over the past two years, underscoring how Beijing has become a fierce defender of intellectual property linked to what planners consider a strategic technology.

As Chinese and Korea technology giants significantly increase their filing of AI patent applications, U.S. companies still lead in the number of AI-related patents actually granted.

China’s attitude toward intellectual property protections is evolving as it moves up the technology value chain. While Chinese companies have long come under fire for conditioning market entry with access to western IP, it has gradually shifted to defending its own patent portfolio, particularly in areas such as AI development.

According to patent application statistics released last week, China’s patent office processed 4,636 AI patent applications over the last two years, or 64.8 percent of all such IP claims since 2018. Patent figures compiled by RS Components also list Chinese companies and universities as dominating the list of top patent filers.

Far and away the top AI patent application filer over the last two years was LG Electronics of South Korea (731), followed by Ping An Technology, a Chinese AI technology developer and cloud provider (308). IT consultant Accenture was the top western patent filer, according to the IP tracker, with 109 AI patent applications. Farther down the list were Microsoft Technology (52 patent applications) and IBM (43), placing them below other market leaders such as Baidu, Huawei Technologies and OneConnect Technology.

For now, the U.S. maintains a wide lead in AI development as well as the number of patents granted. A recent AI talent analysis of found that Chinese universities are the largest source of top AI researchers. MacroPolo reported that 29 percent were educated at Chinese universities. Of those, 56 percent went on to study, work and live in the U.S.

Those findings were based on the number of papers published at last year’s Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems.

The RS Components survey of AI patents found that Intel Corp. maintains a huge lead in the number of AI-related patents granted, nearly 45,600. The next largest AI patent portfolio was DataScience.com, which was acquired by Oracle in 2018.

RS Components said it analyzed 8,000 patent applications between January 2018 and January 2019 along with patent grant data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“When it comes to the countries leading the way in AI innovation, China has undoubtedly taken the lead,” with six of the top ten AI patent filers, the researcher noted. Combined patent applications filed by top Chinese companies and universities nearly equal the total for market leader LG Electronics.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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