China challenges the US with an avalanche of patents

According to an analysis of patent applications in the last decade, the United States is losing its advantage over China and other countries when it comes to innovations related to artificial intelligence, blockchain and other key technologies.

While US inventors still control most of their country's patents, the percentage is declining in high-tech fields, according to a year-long study by the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and researchers in the United States. GreyB Services Pte. According to the authors, that could diminish advantages in areas such as telephones, Internet of things and artificial intelligence.

US applicants filed 66 percent of artificial intelligence patents in 2018, compared with 78 percent in 2007. The percentage of applications for the so-called Internet of Things fell to 59 percent last year, compared to 66 percent. cent a decade ago, while financial technology fell to less than 75 percent, from 82 percent.

"We are requesting more; they are simply asking for more, faster, "explains Kate Gaudry, patent attorney for Kilpatrick Townsend in Washington and one of the authors of the study. "In many high-tech areas and software, we are seeing a decrease in contributions."

The US government maintains that China has failed to fulfill its promises to end a policy that requires US firms to reveal patented technologies if they want to do business in the Asian country.

But, the Chinese government has spent billions on research into key technologies, and the increase in patent applications indicates that Chinese companies are also developing their own technology.

The study examined the filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office between 2007 and 2018. Instead of relying on the traditional classification system of the agency, the researchers considered drafting the patents to see what industries they were related to.

The number of patents requested and received has gone up in the last decade in each of the 12 fields studied. The areas where US companies conserved or increased their domain included medicines, industrial design and computational biology, as statistics used in genomic research and personalized medicine.

The biggest drop was in the Internet of Things area, which covers products such as traffic devices and power grids. In general, according to the report, patent applications in the field are "shooting up", from 5 thousand in 2007 to over 18 thousand in 2018.

At the same time, the percentage of Internet requests for things filed by US companies dropped to less than 60 percent, with the fastest growth of companies in South Korea and China. The Korean Samsung, one of the main recipients of these patents, is building model homes in Seoul to show the possibilities of a fully connected home, although Qualcomm and IBM are among the top five patent holders in this field.

In many categories, large US companies are the largest patent holders: Google, of Alphabet, is prominent in artificial intelligence, Boston Scientific is a leader in patents related to medical devices and General Electric was a leader in green technology and bioinformatics.

Although Bank of America holds most of the patents related to blockchain, Japanese and Chinese companies have increased their percentage.

IBM, the developer of the Watson technology, was the main global recipient of patents in artificial intelligence, but smaller firms dominate the subgroups, such as the Florida-based company Magic Leap in augmented reality and CognitiveScale, based in Texas, for increased intelligence in financial areas.

"They have many more employees, so they should have more patents," says Gaudry about large companies.

Part of the growth of patents, in particular Chinese companies, may be related to globalization and the maturation of companies wishing to operate in the United States, he says.


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