At a glance: Two agencies affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) launched a report on Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) patent applications in 2020. The key trends presented in the report (which is not fully available yet) include:
- AI patent applications in China have reached a total of 694,000, with 101,734 applications filed in the first ten months of 2020 – a 56 percent increase over the same period last year
- Chinese tech giants and universities were the driving force in AI innovation, with Baidu now ranking first for total patents applied for (9,364) and granted (2,682)
- The largest numbers of patents were filed in cloud computing, computer vision and deep learning
AI technology innovations played a particularly important role in the fight against Covid-19, with more than 3,000 relevant patent applications filed. This year’s World Internet Conference which concluded in Wuzhen on November 24, also showcased AI applications such as driverless food deliveries employed during the lockdown
MERICS comment: Covid-19 acted as an additional catalyst for the rapid development of new AI applications. Beijing rapidly embraced data and AI-driven solutions – often at the cost of data privacy – to counter the epidemic, such as smart temperature screening systems and contact tracing tools. China’s “new infrastructure” initiative announced earlier this year also calls for the roll-out of information infrastructure for cloud computing and other industrial AI applications.
Despite China now leading the world in AI-related patent filings, the country still trails behind in regards to quality. The report also mainly points to China’s strengths in AI applications such as computer vision and autonomous vehicles, which significantly outweigh Chinese breakthroughs in fundamental AI research. While China’s patent numbers are impressive, they should not be equated to an overall leadership in AI capabilities.
Report name: 2020 Analysis Report on China’s AI Patent Technologies (2020人工智能中国专利技术分析报告) (Link)
Issuing bodies: China Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, National Electronic Information Intellectual Property Innovation Platform
Date: November 13, 2020