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IBM leads Google and Microsoft as race to next generation AI heats up

The creator of ChatGPT, OpenAI, is way down the list with fewer than five patents, according to the new report ‘IFI Insights: Opening the Patent Picture on Generative AI’. 

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX from Unsplash.com

US commercial giants IBM, Google and Microsoft lead the way as the companies with the most patent applications in Generative AI (GenAI), with other major firms such as Samsung, Adobe and Intel also in the Top 10. However, the creator of ChatGPT, OpenAI, is way down the list with fewer than five patents, according to the new report ‘IFI Insights: Opening the Patent Picture on Generative AI’. 

IFI CLAIMS Patent Services – a world leader in tracking patent application and grant data – is a Digital Science company that compiles and tracks data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and other patent-issuing agencies around the globe.

The report shows that GenAI patents make up around 22% of all patents in AI, which is itself growing, with over half a million patents in this area in the last five years. IBM is the leading company in this space, with over 1,500 patent applications in 2023 – this is a third more than second place Google and more than double the number of Microsoft (see figure below). IBM’s strategy has been to focus on a limited number of areas, including AI, which has also seen it move to fourth place in the IFI CLAIMS annual patent rankings released last month.

The study also drills down into where the focus is for companies in their pursuit of innovation, such as the class and type of GenAI being developed. Many companies are focusing on a class of research termed ‘Computing arrangements based on biological models’ where huge computing power is required, while others such as IBM, Google and Samsung focus on all four types of GenAI outputs: video, text, speech and images. However, others such as Nvidia have a narrower focus (video and images), or only have patents in one area such as Apple (speech).

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“Although generative AI seems so new to the world, the patent filings show us that the technologies around this form of AI have been developing for a while,” said Ronald Kratz, CEO of IFI CLAIMS Patent Services.

“With any powerful, emerging technology, patents are a strong indicator of which companies will dominate the space down the road,” said Kratz. “Investors should take note of the corporations protecting inventions in promising new areas.”

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