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China leads world’s generative AI patent filings, UK tops Europe, report finds

China tops the list of generative AI patents
China tops the list of generative AI patents Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Pascale Davies
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A UN report has found that China filed six times more patent findings than the US.


China is filing the most patents for generative artificial intelligence (AI) inventions in the world, significantly more than the United States, which ranked in second place, according to a report by the UN agency for intellectual property. 

Generative AI, includes inventions such as chatbots and the creation of new content in the form of text, images, video or sound.

There have been more than 50,000 patent applications in the last decade for this technology, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

More than 25 per cent of the patent filings appeared just last year and more than 38,000 inventions involving generative AI were filed in China, six times more than those filed in the US (6,276) between 2014 and 2023. 

The top patent applicants included China’s ByteDance, which owns TikTok, the e-commerce company Alibaba Group and US-based ChatGPT maker OpenAI

South Korea came in third place, followed by Japan, and India. The United Kingdom ranked sixth, followed by Germany. 

The report said that the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 marked a turning point as its platform “made it easier for all users to access advanced GenAI programs, particularly large language models (LLMs)”.

But it said that OpenAI only appeared to have filed patents for its research activities at the beginning of 2023.

"An explanation for this might be the non-profit origin of OpenAI ... the company later transitioned from non-profit to a 'capped' for-profit model. An alternative explanation might be that OpenAI is opting to retain its IP (intellectual property) in the form of trade secrets," the report said. 

The report said GenAI patents span diverse sectors, including life sciences and could in the future help design new molecules, advancing drug development. 

“GenAI has emerged as a game-changing technology with the potential to transform the way we work, live and play,” said WIPO Director General Daren Tang.

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