UN Agency: China Leading AI Patents Race

    07 July, 2024

    Recent United Nations data shows that China is ahead of other countries in filing patents for generative artificial intelligence (or GenAI) inventions.

    China has filed six times more patents than the United States.

    Generative AI produces text, images, computer code and even music from existing information. Generative AI is growing quickly with more than 50,000 patent applications filed in the past ten years, the World Intellectual Property Organization (or WIPO) says.

    FILE - Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words
    FILE - Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)

    WIPO is a UN agency that oversees a system for countries to share recognition of patents. Around 25 percent of the patent applications were filed in 2023 alone, WIPO said.

    "This is an area that is growing at increasing speed. And it's somewhere that we expect to grow even more," WIPO’s Christopher Harrison told reporters recently.

    China filed more than 38,000 GenAI inventions between 2014-2023. In comparison, the United States filed 6,276 over the same period, WIPO said.

    Harrison said the Chinese patent applications covered several areas from autonomous driving to publishing to document management.

    South Korea, Japan and India placed third, fourth and fifth respectively, with India growing at the fastest rate, the data showed.

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

    WIPO's Harrison said while chatbots with the ability to copy human communication are already being widely used to improve customer service, GenAI could change industries like science, publishing, transportation or security. For example, Harrison said data suggests GenAI-created molecules might help speed up drug development.

    WIPO said it expects even more patents to be filed soon. And the agency plans to release a future update of the data, possibly using generative AI.

    I’m John Russell.

    Emma Farge reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    patent -- n. a document that gives a person or company the right to be the only one that makes or sells a product for an amount of time

    generative -- adj. describes using artificial intelligence algorithms to create complete units of content

    application – n. a formal, written request for something

    autonomous – adj. acting separately from other people or things

    chatbot -- n. a program designed to chat with human beings