AI Patent Race: What China’s Dominance Means for the Market

The People’s Republic of China is powering ahead in the Gen AI race
The UN finds that China is steaming ahead of other countries in the generative AI (Gen AI) patent race, having filed six times more patents than the US

The People’s Republic of China is powering ahead in the generative AI (Gen AI) race, according to the UN.

It is reported that China currently boasts the most AI patents currently, having filed more than 38,210 patents between 2014 and 2023. This means that it has outpaced other countries committed to fast-paced digital transformation, including the US (6,276), South Korea (4,155), Japan (3,409) and India (1,350), according to Reuters.

“The sharp rise in patenting activity reflects the recent technological advances and the potential within Gen AI,” the UN report explains.

In recent years, China has been committed to innovating the next generation of Gen AI, powering ahead with powerful innovations across several key industries, including supply chain, manufacturing and electric vehicles (EV)

This lead in the Gen AI market cements their competitive edge and highlights their commitment to innovation.

Gen AI continues to boom in the enterprise space

Gen AI is a type of AI that produces text, images and computer code and has exploded in popularity in recent months, with organisations around the world keen to get their hands on the technology to develop their own. The technology is responsible for OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Anthropic’s Claude chatbot models.

 According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), more than 50,000 patent applications for Gen AI have been filed in the past decade alone. According to this data, one-quarter of them were filed in 2023 alone.

With chatbots becoming increasingly desirable to businesses, Gen AI has been posited as holding the key to transform multiple sectors. Chatbots are currently the most celebrated iteration, as organisations are eager to demonstrate how the technology can help improve their workplace productivity and customer service.

Globally, as Gen AI develops, more businesses are seeking to develop policies and strategies to harness and manage the technology’s power within the workplace. If working in tandem with workforces responsibly, it holds great potential to revolutionise company operations.

Among the top applicants were China's ByteDance - which owns video app TikTok - Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, and Microsoft, a backer of startup OpenAI which created ChatGPT.

Currently in China, the companies with the most Gen AI patents globally include Tencent, Ping An Insurance Group and Baidu. Reuters has also cited ByteDance, the organisation that owns video app TikTok, as a top patent applicant.

China shows no signs of slowing its AI innovation

It is no surprise that the Chinese AI market is continuing to thrive. Despite last year’s imposed restrictions on AI chips from the US, the company has found myriad ways to support its businesses and continue to prioritise AI investments.

With the country eager to become a global AI leader by 2030, it has been forecast in 2024 that China’s AI market is expected to triple from US$23.196bn in 2021, to roughly US$61.85bn by 2025.

Significantly, the country has successfully managed to keep its AI momentum going, having introduced world-first regulations into AI technology in areas such as deepfakes and generative models. Likewise, the country’s interim measures on Gen AI in 2023 stated that AI technology must adhere to the “core socialist values of China” and should not endanger national security.

This is evidenced in its commitment to huge enterprise digital transformations, with multiple plans such as Made in China 2025 and the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan (2017) seeking to oversee the continued growth of the country’s AI sector, whilst committing itself to enterprise innovation and AI governance.

Quoted in an earlier AI Magazine article on the subject, Baidu co-founder, chairman and CEO of Baidu, Robin Li, said: “We believe that artificial intelligence will revolutionise every industry we know today. The immense long-term value of AI and its transformative impact on all aspects of life are only in their infancy.”

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