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The WIPO study in the series “WIPO Technology Trends” takes account of more than 340,000 AI patent registrations and 1.6 million scientific papers that have been published since the 1950s. The reference point is 2016 as the last complete year, since there is an 18-month period between patent registration and disclosure.

According to the study, AI-related patent registration is increasing rapidly, with half of the inventions being published between 2013 and 2016; in the area of machine learning, the number of patents increased by 111% from 9,567 to 20,195 and in deep learning it increased by just under 20 times from 118 to 2,399. The highest growth rates were recorded in the transport sector, followed by telecommunications, bio sciences, medical sciences and the fields of personal devices, computers and human-computer interaction. 26 of the 30 most important AI patent applicants were companies, the four others were universities and public research institutions. Top of the pile in 2016 was IBM with 8,290 AI patent registrations, followed by Microsoft with 5,930 registrations.