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Dawn Ellmore Employment reviews Microsoft global race for AI patents

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a buzzword for a distant future. It’s increasingly becoming part of just about every sector. Start-ups and established companies alike are charging ahead with AI patents all around the world, and it looks set to continue increasing.

Data at the start of 2018 showed that innovative disruptors intensified their efforts to gain IP rights for all kinds of technological developments, ranging from blockchain platforms to AI. In particular, the increase in patents awarded for machine learning technology increased dramatically, according to a survey by IFI Claims Patent Services. Data shows the patent category that includes neural networks, AI and machine learning grew by 34% annually between 2013 and 2018.

Microsoft leads the pack for AI patents

As we leave 2018 behind and move into a new year, statistics show that there is no slowdown in AI patents. The patent category continues to be the fastest growing category globally, according to EconSight’s report titled Artificial Intelligence As A Key Technology and Driver of Technological Progress.

EconSight is based in Germany and works with clients that include many German DAX-30 businesses, the Swiss Federal Council, the German Federal Chancellery and a number of leading European research organisations and think tanks. By using a specific analytics platform, the research shows which businesses are ahead in terms of AI patent filings.

The report finds that Microsoft is leading the race for filing AI patents as we move into 2019. As of November 2018, Microsoft filed 697 world-class patents identified as including ‘significant competitive impact’.

Microsoft and Alphabet dominate AI patents

From the top 30 companies identified in the report, Microsoft created 20% of all patents. With 697 patents, Microsoft is significantly ahead of the next company on the list, which is Alphabet at 536.

Alphabet is the multinational US conglomerate, which originated in 2015 following Google’s corporate restructure. It’s now the parent organisation of Google and various other subsidiaries. It’s unsurprising to see Microsoft and Google leading the field so strongly. It’s interesting to see that other businesses, such as Facebook and IBM are much further down the top 30.

Facebook comes in at 21st (jointly with Canon and Hitachi) with 58 AI patents, and Amazon at 11th with 75.

Machine learning leads AI

And while Microsoft is at the forefront of AI patents, machine learning is at the head of the category itself. Machine learning dominates AI patents and heads up all categories including neural networks and deep learning.

Machine learning algorithms and their applications can solve complex problems by extrapolating big data. Specifically designed to seek out patterns in massive amounts of data, machine learning applications are at the heart of the development of AI technology for software companies.

Here’s our quick guide to the main terms involved in AI patents:

  • Deep learning – a machine learning technique that can learn through more than two hidden layers of information.
  • Neural networks – a specific machine learning algorithm based on the workings of the human brain. This allows the system to ‘learn’ from data it observes.
  • Machine learning – a term for the field of research that attempts to apply algorithms to data in order to unearth patterns.

AI patents by industry

Since 2000, 225,833 patents based on AI have been filed globally. Almost a third of these (30.7%) are Industry 4.0 specific. This is the term given to the general trend of automation and data technologies, including could and cognitive computing and the Internet of things. It’s also commonly referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The next largest category by industry is in the health sector at 28.1%. Around 14% of all patents concerning AI fall into digital security, with 11.9% in the energy sector. Interestingly, the fastest growing category between 2000 and 2018 is the application of AI to marketing (22%), and digital security using AI (18.8%).

Throughout 2019, Dawn Ellmore Employment will be keeping you up to date with patent news and information and we expect to be reporting on many fascinating AI patents during the year.

About Dawn Ellmore Employment

Dawn Ellmore Employment was incorporated in 1995 and is a market leader in intellectual property and legal recruitment.




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