The Korea Herald


S. Korea has third most patents on artificial intelligence after US, Japan

Samsung applied for more than 3,000 AI-related patents in 12 years

By Song Su-hyun

Published : Dec. 21, 2017 - 16:10

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South Korea is witnessing increasing research efforts for artificial intelligence, with the third most patents related to AI technologies after the US and Japan, a survey by a local research institute found Thursday.

However, the country’s growth pace and quality of patent applications remain inferior to those of the US and China, the survey added.

According to the Institute for Information & Communications Technology Promotion, Korea came in third in terms of the number of AI-related patents that were issued during the period of January 2005 to September 2017.

The institute kept track of AI patents issued by patent authorities of major countries.

In Korea, patent applications in the AI sector grew by 8 percent average yearly, the survey showed, from 463 in 2005 to 892 in 2017.

It is a global trend that information technology companies and researchers are boosting activities to issue artificial intelligence patents and academic papers. 
Samsung's voice-activated AI Bixby (Samsung Electronics) Samsung's voice-activated AI Bixby (Samsung Electronics)

The number of AI patent applications worldwide surged from about 5,000 in 2005 to 9,100 this year, the IITP report showed. And about 20,000 academic papers on AI were published from January to September this year alone.

In the US, a total of 4,738 patents were applied this year, led by tech moguls like Qualcomm, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Intel and Facebook.

Qualcomm is the largest AI patent holder in the US with 2,325 patents, the data showed.

In Korea, Samsung Electronics topped the list with 3,188 patents spanning the 12 years, the survey found.

LG Electronics followed with 899 such patents, trailed by Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute with 865, LG Display with 350 and Samsung Display and Samsung Electro-Mechanics with 207 each.

Hyundai Motor Company applied for 113 artificial intelligence-related patents, while Korea Advanced Institute of Technology and SK Telecom had 91 and 75, respectively.

“Leading companies and institutes are apparently increasing investments in intellectual properties of their AI technologies and commercialized products as they believe in the potential market growth,” said Cho Il-koo, head of a research team at IITP.

However, the official pointed out the recent growth pace of Korea’s competitiveness in AI technologies has been slower than that of the US and China.

US-based Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon are at the forefront of AI in all aspects such as workforce, data, hardware and investment, while China’s AI patent applications have been growing at an explosive rate of 37 percent annually, led by Huawei.

“Korean AI patents suggest that the current level of technologies overall is lower than that of the US, Europe and China,” Cho said. “Korea is reaching the top-rate technologies only in terms of Korean-language intelligence and hearing intelligence.” 

By Song Su-hyun (