Chinese enterprises increased patent filings for artificial intelligence products rapidly in the past couple of years.
As Statista’s Katharina Buchholz notes, the companies holding the most active AI and machine learning patent families are now tech giant Tencent and search engine provider Baidu, ahead of U.S. firm IBM, South Korea’s Samsung, Chinese insurance provider Ping An and former AI patent leader Microsoft.
The latter company has been seeing one of its major AI investments come to fruition recently, as conversational AI bot ChatGPT by Microsoft partner OpenAI has been making waves. Microsoft swiftly announced another round of funding for OpenAI, rumored to be to the tune of $10 billion.
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As this chart based on the LexisNexis PatentSight directory shows, Tencent and Baidu became the largest patent owners in machine learning and AI in 2021, each holding more than 9,000 active patent families. A family is a set of patents covering the same technical content. IBM owed more than 7,000 families that same year, while Microsoft held just under 6,000 – rank six. Between 2012 and 2019, it was Microsoft which owned the most AI patents, according to LexisNexis.
Even bigger than the rise in filings by Tencent and Baidu was the AI patent frenzy unleashed by Chinese insurance and banking giant Ping An. The number of patent families it owns grew from fewer than 50 to more than 6,000 just in the past five years. years. Among the AI tools recently developed by the company is software for analyzing facial micro-expressions (i.e. eye blinks, involuntary twitches), which Ping An uses to assess insurance claims its policyholders send in by video.