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January 9, 2018

Tech Giants Pile Up Machine Learning Patents


Technology innovators intensified efforts over the last year to secure intellectual property rights on transformative technologies ranging from AI to blockchain platforms. While IBM maintained its overwhelming lead in U.S. patent awards, Chinese manufacturers continue to make steady progress gaining control of IP while the growth rate for patent awards in machine learning soared.

An annual patent survey released by IFI Claims Patent Services found that machine-learning patent applications are among the fastest growing categories. Larry Cady, a senior analyst with IFI, estimates the patent category that includes machine learning and neural networks grew at a 34 percent annual rate over the last five years. “I don’t see that trend slowing,” Cady added in an interview.

The patent firm’s estimates of the fastest growing technologies are based on patent applications rather than actual awards of utility patents. As it has for the past quarter century, IBM (NYSE: IBM) again led the IP chase in 2017 with more than 9,000 U.S. patent awards on technologies such as speech recognition and distributed ledgers. According to an annual survey, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued just over 320,000 utility grants last year—a record.

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