From tech companies to start-ups to universities, every segment of India wants a share of the Generative AI pie but data show that the country has a lot of catching up to do.

India has filed only 1,350 patents around this buzzing technology from 2014 to 2023 ranking fifth after China (38,210), US (6,276), Republic of Korea (4,155), and Japan (3,409) when it comes to total number of GenAI inventions patented, as per a new report by UN body World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). India has also overtaken the UK (sixth with 714 patents) and Germany (708) when it comes to number of GenAI patents published.

Chinese companies Tencent, Ping An Insurance Group and Baidu published the most GenAI patent families in the last 10 years. While no Indian entities figure in top 20 GenAI patent owners, the report highlights Indian patents including a retail AI assistant solution patented by RN Chidakashi Technologies (Miko Robotics), and Tata Consultancy Services’ GenAI patent around an AI tool for contract lifecycle management.

However, in a sign of hectic pace of innovation in India, the country has recorded the highest annual growth rate in GenAI patent publications at an average rate of 56 per cent. However, this is on a small base as India holds a share of 3 per cent of the total GenAI patents. On the other hand, China clocks a 50 per cent growth at a high base.

A total of 54,358 patent families (a collection of patent applications covering the same or similar technical content) were published in the field of GenAI between 2014 and 2023 with 89 per cent of this (48,398) considered active at the end of 2023.

Rise in patent activity

Advances in AI and deep learning techniques have resulted in a sharp increase in patent activity in GenAI. The introduction of transformer models in 2017 and the advent of popular apps like ChatGPT in 2022 have also contributed to spikes GenAI patent action as share of GenAI patent publications among all AI patents rose from 4.2 per cent in 2017 to 6.1 per cent in 2023. 

Over 25 per cent of all GenAI patents and over 45 per cent of all GenAI scientific papers were published in 2023 alone. Interestingly, OpenAI, which has become a synonym for GenAI, has not filed any patents for its research activities until the beginning of 2023, perhaps owing to the non-profit origin of OpenAI, the report notes. 

Shailendra Bhandare, Partner, Khaitan & Co, says one also has to consider the maturity of the patent regimes and the threshold levels they set to award a GenAI patent while analysing the numbers across countries. “To grow AI-related inventions, it is important for India to have well-defined eligibility framework for such GenAI inventions,” he says. “The patenting of GenAI related inventions, however, has seen a rise in India since 2021,” he adds.

WIPO data also indicate a relative maturity of the Chinese patent regime compared to other countries. Between 2014 and 2023, more than 40,000 of China’s GenAI patents were filed within the country. At second spot, the US saw over 10,700 patents in its own jurisdiction, and 98 per cent of India’s 1,350 patents were filed within its jurisdiction.