A new report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) sheds light into the global patent application practice in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The report investigates the key areas tackled by applicants and analyses the countries that dominate this defining topic.

The fastest growing fields of AI based patent applications were AI for robotics as well as control methods with 55% annual growth. In addition, AI based patent applications for transportation have also grown 33%. Thus, all the fastest growing fields are important for the European countries where large automobile manufacturers are also among the largest users of robots to date.

Thus, the automobile manufactures have to pay specific attention to the new competition outside of their industry by large multinationals like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alibaba and the like.

A further important insight is that while US based companies dominate several key areas, China has seen an unprecedented growth of AI based patent applications. Still, less than 4% of the applications, first filed in China are later prosecuted in a different jurisdiction. In contrast, 32% of first filings performed in the USA are later prosecuted in other countries.

According to the report, applications first filed in China have the least number of citations by other patent applications compared to the other big filing offices. The report indicates that this is an indicator of minor relevance in the respective field. Another plausible explanation, however, is that it is extremely difficult for non-Chinese Examiners to search prior art in Chinese. This problem is even more present in the field of computer-implemented inventions as the figures tend to be less illustrative than those of applications related to mechanics or electronics.

Even though the percentage of Chinese first filings entering the European markets is low at present, there is a high probability that the number of patents originating in China will dramatically increase in the next couple of years. This is a serious challenge – maybe even a thread – for the domestic filers. Domestic filer should therefore pay close attention to the developments of patent activity in this fascinating field, potentially starting by reading the report that can be found here.