India Emerging New Target For Patent Filing in AI: WIPO

India is emerging as a new target for patent filings in the field of Artificial Intelligence and is among the top countries for publications in specific categories such as computer vision and natural language processing, according to a UN report.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Technology Trends report, 50 percent of all patents for AI – the replication of human intelligence by machines for use in industries such as transport and healthcare, for instance – have been published since 2013, adding up to more than 170,000 different patented ideas.

Australia, Canada, Germany, India and the UK hold prominent positions in publications in specific categories such as computer vision, natural language processing, speech processing, distributed AI and predictive analytics.

The report said that while major patent offices receiving patent filings in the AI field are France, Germany, the Republic of Korea and the UK, India is emerging as a new target for patent filing. The greatest number of patent applications are filed in the patent offices of U.S. and China, followed by Japan, South Korea, Germany, Australia and India.

The report noted that India was ranked eighth for first filings in 2015 and has enjoyed a high rate of annual growth during recent years (with an average of 33 percent in the three years up to 2015).

India ranks fourth in scientific publications (ahead of Japan), Italy, which ranks ninth, and Spain, which is 10th. India ranks third in fuzzy logic and fourth in machine learning, whereas it is eighth or lower in patenting activity.

“This suggests that India has strengths in AI research that might become even more evident within the next few years in terms of patenting activity,” it said.

The “upsurge” in patent applications for devices and machines powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the last five years, suggests that it could soon revolutionize all areas of daily life far beyond the tech world, the UN report said on January 31.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry told journalists in Geneva the surge in patenting was “striking”, noting that AI research began in the 1950s.

“But there has been a quantum leap since about 2013, so we’re dealing with what is happening right now in a very fast-moving field,” he said.

By number, patent applications for machine learning, indicate that this is currently the dominant application of AI; think of apps that include ride-sharing services to minimize detours.

The fastest-growing AI area is deep learning”, however, which is used in speech recognition. This saw a 175-percent annual increase in patent applications from 2013 to 2016, far in excess of the 33 percent average for all patents in the same period.

The United States and China dominate the field of patent application, although only a fraction of China’s patents is filed abroad. US-based tech giant IBM leads by number of patent applications (8,290), followed by Microsoft (5,930).

Japan’s Toshiba has the next highest patent tally (5,223), ahead of South Korea’s Samsung (5,102) and Japan’s NEC Group (4,406).

China’s increasingly important role in the sector is also illustrated by the fact that Chinese organizations make up 17 of the top 20 academic players in AI patenting, as well as 10 of the top 20 in AI-related scientific publications.

In coming years, AI is set to grow with “major military and economic” uses, Gurry said, before highlighting the importance of proposed WIPO-led discussions between Member States, on legal and ethical issues relating to intellectual property rights that have been raised by the technology.

“One would expect that the strategic focus of major geopolitical players will turn to their positioning in relation to AI,” he said.

Internet search giants have also been key to the AI revolution, the WIPO report shows, with Google (US) and Baidu (China) embracing the potential of the technology early on, just as Microsoft and Apple did before them.

In addition to the US and China’s large populations, the WIPO head noted the importance of State-led support for innovation in both places, which included investing in technology hubs and even training specialized patent officers.