Patent trends in artificial intelligence | Venable LLP
Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are revolutionizing industries around the world and changing the way we live and work. As AI continues to grow in popularity, a fascinating trend is emerging in parallel: the rise in AI patent applications.
Patent applications are strong indicators of where companies see future innovation and technological value moving within their industries. Recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of patent applications related to artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.
Our latest analysis of Google search trends over the past two years (November 2021-2023) indicates a 367% increase in searches related to AI patents. Furthermore, our analysis of US patent filing records indicates that the occurrence of terms such as “machine learning” in generic patent applications has increased from 5,500 times in 2011 to more than 100,000 times across patent offices worldwide in 2021. Likewise, in 2011, the term “artificial intelligence” appeared in generic patent applications more than 5,000 times, and by 2021 the term appeared more than 100,000 times.
A review of pending applications reveals AI-related patents that seek to cover several emerging technologies. For example, the self-driving and electric vehicle industries are harnessing artificial intelligence systems that help navigate complex road environments, make real-time decisions, and ensure safe and efficient transportation.
Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is using AI to improve diagnosis, drug discovery, and patient care. AI algorithms analyze massive amounts of medical data, including patient records, imaging scans, and genomic information, to help diagnose diseases, plan treatment, and personalized medicine.
AI systems are being developed for use by banks, financial institutions and fintech companies. according to The EconomistA 2022 survey of IT executives in banking found that 85% had a “clear strategy” to “adopt AI in developing new products and services,” while a 2023 Forbes survey found that a third of executives surveyed They have already seen “tangible gains” from using AI in their organizations. AI-related patents in this area cover everything from actuarial tasks to asset management automation, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, insurance, robo-advisors, and digital transaction security.
In the music industry, improving the use of instruments and generating music are AI tools that have helped artists in this field, however, there have also been numerous cases of artists’ images and voices being copied using AI technology. Most famously, several AI-generated songs have appeared on social media platforms, which were claimed to be composed by artist Drake.
Next, in our analysis of AI-related data from 2000 to 2023, we observed that there was also a pattern of “booms” where there were significant increases in overall investment in AI patents, followed by “busts” where growth in The number of new AI patent applications slows (although rarely declines) for a while before the next boom. For example, following a rapid rise in AI patents from 2000 to 2002, the boom continued until the financial crisis of 2008, which was again followed by strong growth from 2010 to 2015.
In light of our ongoing analysis and the above findings, we note that there are actions any organization can take to ensure that it is better positioned for the impact of AI technologies:
- Organize your data. All current AI systems rely on pattern recognition to make predictions based on past examples. For a company to efficiently take advantage of future AI developments, organizing and storing data is extremely important.
- Identify and prioritize aspects of your work that require creativity or personal connection. Creativity and personal communications are aspects that AI cannot fully replace, at least in the near term, so they will eventually become the “core” elements of differentiating your brand, products, and services.
- Plan how your organization will embrace AI. Are you planning to develop your own AI tools (and seeking to create intellectual property around those AI tools)? Or do you plan to license tools created by others?
The recent rise in the popularity of AI has had a profound impact on innovation and intellectual property, making it essential for companies to understand the relationship between AI and increased competition, if they are to succeed in protecting the value of their unique and impactful innovations. Given the pace of development and use of AI systems in virtually every industry, we expect to see continued and intense interest over the next five years in patenting AI systems for a myriad of consumer and industry-focused applications.
*The authors would like to thank technical advisor Venable and patent agent Timothy J. MacDonald for his help in drafting this article.