Artificial Intelligence: The USPTO Deploys AI To Gauge AI Trends In Patents

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A recent study of U.S. patents by the USPTO finds unprecedented growth and broad diffusion of AI.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) said in its October report, “Inventing AI – Tracing The Diffusion Of Artificial Intelligence With US Patents,”  that annual AI-related applications rose from 30,000 in 2002 to more than 60,000 in 2018. That showed more than a 100% increase.

Further, the USPTO finds “unprecedented growth and broad diffusion of AI across technologies, inventor-patentees, organizations, and geography.”

This attests to “the growing importance of AI for all of those seeking intellectual property protection.”

AI tracks AI

What is highly interesting is that the authors of the USPTO study employed their own AI algorithm to sift through the voluminous US patent applications from 1976 through 2018. This helped them generate valuable insights into AI’s diffusion.

  • AI is playing an increasingly important role in the process of invention. This trend plays out across various technologies, organizations, geographies, and inventor-patentees.
  • In the 16 years from 2002 to 2018, the proportion of patent applications that contained AI rose from 9% to about 16%

  • Inventor-patentees using AI were just 1% in 1976 but surged to 25% by 2018.
  • Most of the top 30 AI companies belonged to the information and communications technology sector. [IBM Corp (NYSE: IBM) topped the list with 46,752 patents
  • The USPTO found that patents containing AI appeared in 9% of its technology subclasses in 1976. That grew to more than 42% by 2018.

  • Geographically, the study found that during 1976 through 2000, AI inventor-patentees were from mostly the larger cities and technology hubs. However, from 2000 through 2018, AI diffused into other areas of the country, notably the Midwest.

AI: A far-reaching technology

“Artificial intelligence is becoming ingrained in the daily life of Americans, facilitated by its rapid integration into products such as voice recognition systems in mobile phones, robotic appliances, satellites, search engines, and so much more,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, in a statement.

“As this major new report demonstrates, the expansion of AI is a long-term trend that is accelerating every year. Unlocking the potential of AI will provide the basis for future U.S. economic growth and prosperity, and is something that the USPTO will continue to facilitate with our corps of patent examiners and other professionals who specialize in the nuances of this broad-based and far-reaching technology.”

Related Story:   AI Cannot Be an Inventor, Says USPTO

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