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METI Reports on Increasing AI-Related Patent Inventions in Japan and Worldwide


Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) issued its annual report of the state of applications for patents related to artificial intelligence (AI; patent applications filed under categories corresponding to G06N in International Patent Classification, or applications in various fields using AI) this month.


Not surprisingly, the numbers of such applications increased by leaps and bounds in the mid-2010s. In Japan, the patent applications for AI rose from just over 1,000 in 2014 to 4,700 in 2018 (the latest year giving data in the report). METI attributes the rise to the swelling research and developments for neural network-based machine learning (Report pp. 4-5).


The specific classifications receiving the greatest numbers of applications were general “AI core” technologies, image data processing/generation, and information search and selection technologies. However, a wide variety of other classes in business, medicine, and others have seen great increases (p. 7). Major corporations (Hitachi, Canon, Toyota, etc.) from a wide variety of industries in Japan were foremost in filings (p. 12). Over half of the AI-related patent applications for the JPO in 2018 mentioned “Deep Learning” (Report p. 9).


Meanwhile, Japan’s AI-related innovation is far outpaced, judging by raw patent application numbers, by the People’s Republic of China (at the China IPA/SIPO) and United States of America (at the USPTO); Japan had 803, China 6,858, and the United States 5,954 such applications in 2017 (Report, p. 15). While far behind by the numbers, Japan’s innovators are still producing much that could be useful worldwide for further technological profit.



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Taro Yaguchi

Sources and reference
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan. “AI関連発明の出願状況調査 報告書 [Report of study of state of applications for AI-related inventions].” Dated July 2020. Accessed July 30, 2020.


Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan. “AI関連発明の出願状況を調査しました 第三次AIブームの下で、AI関連発明の特許出願が急増 [Studied applications of AI-related applications; amidst the third AI wave, AI-related patent applications are rapidly increasing].” [This is a summary of above report, the main source for this article] July 27, 2020. Accessed July 30, 2020.













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