Patent report highlights AI boom

2 min read

Leading IP firm, Marks & Clerk, has released one of the most comprehensive reports of its kind analysing artificial intelligence patent filings in Europe, exploring long term trends following a steep rise.

The research revealed that in the first half of 2020 alone, around 650 AI patent applications per month were published in areas ranging from autonomous vehicles and speech recognition to drug discovery.

It found European applicants had a higher success rate than their US counterparts, and identified an acceleration in Chinese applicants who accounted for around 7 per cent of AI applications published in 2019.

Mike Williams, Chartered (UK) and European Patent Attorney from Marks & Clerk, said: “Research and development in AI continues to grow, and as well as seeing large-scale investment into AI start-ups, the proportion of AI applications from larger filers is growing. This tells us there is a growing appetite from more established companies to become increasingly active in the AI space.

“Naturally, investment in intellectual property protecting this technology has risen to reflect that. With a considerable client base in this arena, we carried out an AI patents analysis more detailed than any other published to-date, looking at EPO filing trends, variations in grant rates based on technology area and country area, and publication numbers.

“A deeper understanding of these trends allows us to better guide innovators on the competitor landscape, contextualise what they are doing, pre-empt where things are heading and understand how to best protect their own inventions.”

A review of applications filed over the last 20 years broken down by technology sector showed Life and Medical Science came out on top, accounting for 16 per cent. This was closely followed by Telecommunications at 12 per cent and Physical Sciences at 11 per cent.

This two-decade analysis also explored growth areas, identifying a sharp increase in Transportation in the last four years, while other areas such as Networks remained stable. What’s more, it showed that while Life and Medical Science was the largest sector for filings from Europe and the US, this was not the case for Chinese applicants, with Telecoms accounting for 20 per cent of their applications.

Looking at technology type, speech processing was the clear front-runner in 2004 when it made up 18 per cent of filings, but in recent years this has been swiftly overtaken by applications relating to natural language processing and computer vision.

Although applications were dominated by European and US applicants (with US applicants accounting for 37 per cent of AI publications in 2019), all countries of origin showed an increase in recent years.

Williams added: “We were particularly interested to note that US applicants under-perform compared with their European counterparts who are shown to be more successful at the EPO.

“This would suggest they are doing something different to other applicants, and demonstrates the value of applications being prepared with European requirements in mind. Improvements in grant-rate for non-European applicants could potentially be achieved by seeking input from a European patent attorney during drafting.”

To read the full report click on the link below.