It is no surprise that IBM and Microsoft are the top two Artificial Intelligence (AI) patent holders, but other businesses have quietly been gathering rights, some who are less obvious.
Right behind he IBM and Microsoft are ten Japanese companies.
While significant IP focus may be on the Chinese, of late, who double the U.S. in patent applications, worldwide, a number of Japanese companies have quietly established a solid showing in the AI space.
According to the Financial Times via a World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) research report (see graph below), European businesses are clearly lagging in AI, but ten significant Japanese companies, led by Toshiba, NEC and Fujitsu, have made a strong showing.
Six of the top ten AI patent holders are Japan-based companies and 10 of the top 16. China is in the AI race, as well, although currently to a lesser extent. It is not clear if these “patent families,” which presumably include applications, are the reflect worldwide issuances and applications.
What does it mean?
What this might mean is that while IBM and Microsoft may get the headlines in AI patent grants, the Japanese who want to play in the AI arena have been accumulating the likely dry powder. Remember: advanced manufacturing, robotics and automobiles, heavily Japanese industries, all do or will require AI to one degree or another.
Quality means a great deal when it comes to having technology patents, but collective quantity and filing dates matter, too.
Statista, the data and research source, portrays a somewhat different AI landscape. It claims that companies with the most “AI related” patents are Microsoft and IBM in that order, and the Japanese, except for Sony and Canon do not play as strongly among the top companies.
Statista’s source, IPlytics, a German market intelligence company, reveals in a recent report entitled ‘Who is patenting AI technology?‘, the companies leading the way in AI research – at least in terms of volume. It is unclear from IP CloseUp’s perusal of the report if the data source is EU, worldwide or UPSPTO .
China plays a significant AI role in both the WIPO data and IPlytics’, though not as active at the U.S and Japan (see graph below).
Image source: ft.com via WIPO; Statista