China Surges Ahead in Generative AI Patents: Tencent and Baidu Lead the Charge

China has taken the lead in the global race for generative artificial intelligence patents, with over 38,000 patents filed between 2014 and 2023, according to a new report from the United Nations on Thursday.

This number is significantly higher than the patents filed by U.S. inventors, which is six times less, as stated by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization.

Generative AI, a branch of artificial intelligence, enables users to create content such as text, images, music, audio, and videos.

In terms of geography, China is at the forefront with 38,210 patents, vastly outnumbering those from the U.S. (6,276), Republic of Korea (4,155), Japan (3,409), and India (1,350).

According to the report, generative AI patents currently represent 6% of all AI patents globally.

“The notable increase in patent filings highlights recent technological advancements and the significant potential within generative AI,” the report noted.

China has been striving to catch up with ChatGPT creator OpenAI and major U.S. tech companies like Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google, and Amazon in the development of large language models (LLM), having initially lagged behind.

ChatGPT gained worldwide attention in November 2022 for its ability to produce humanlike responses to user prompts.

In response, Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba and Baidu introduced their own LLMs last year, aiming to compete with their U.S. counterparts.

To solidify its position in the global tech arena, China launched a three-year “action plan” in May. This initiative aims to enhance standards in AI chips, generative AI, and expand national computing power, ultimately driving technological and economic growth.

“China has a vast, untapped market for consumers, businesses, and industry partners to innovate and apply generative AI technologies across various sectors using specialized data sets,” Wei Sun, senior consultant of artificial research at Counterpoint Research, explained to CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Thursday.

“This is crucial for China to achieve real-world application deployments that could potentially surpass those in the U.S.,” Sun added.

According to the UN report, image and video data led the generative AI patents with 17,996 inventions, followed by text with 13,494, and speech or music with 13,480.

The agency stated that by examining patent trends and data, it aims to assist policymakers in “shaping the development of generative AI for our common benefit.”

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