• IBM leads in AI-related U.S. patent applications over the past five years, surpassing tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI.
  • The surge in AI-related patent applications reflects robust interest in AI innovation, particularly among major tech players.
  • Generative AI patents are on the rise, indicating significant advancements in this field and potential implications for various industries.

In a revelation shared exclusively with Axios, IBM emerges as the frontrunner in AI-related U.S. patent applications over the last half-decade, outpacing industry giants like Microsoft, Google, and OpenAI.

Why it Matters:

While patents serve as just one metric of research vigor, the substantial increase in AI-related patent filings signals heightened interest, especially among major tech corporations. IBM’s dominance in this realm suggests a substantive commitment to AI innovation, transcending mere marketing endeavors.

Key Findings:

  • An analysis by IFI Claims unveils IBM’s commanding position with 1,591 AI-related patent applications, followed closely by industry stalwarts like Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel, Adobe, Capital One, and China’s Baidu.
  • Notably, over 22% of these patents are attributed to generative AI, indicating a rapid surge in this field. IFI Claims reports a compound annual growth rate of 16% for granted GenAI applications over the past five years, with patent applications growing at a staggering 31% rate.


  • IFI Claims, specializing in patent data, devised a system to identify AI and generative AI-related patent filings. As newer technologies emerge, patent classifications may lag, prompting a need for tailored queries to capture innovations accurately.
  • Despite its prominence in AI discourse, OpenAI surprisingly fails to crack the top 25 companies on the list. IFI Claims identifies only one patent application from OpenAI, hinting at potential differences in patent strategy or reliance on trade secrets for intellectual property protection.


  • While patents signify innovation, they represent just one facet. Not all companies pursue patent protection, and not all applications are granted, with no assurance of product realization.
  • IBM’s strategic shift towards selective patenting underscores its commitment to key innovation areas like AI. Notably, IBM’s generative AI patents span diverse domains including image, speech, text, and video, aligning with its broader innovation agenda.

Future Implications:

  • The exponential growth in AI patents raises pivotal questions regarding the treatment of AI-generated inventions. While AI, particularly generative AI, revolutionizes material discovery and formulation, legal frameworks grapple with defining ownership and intellectual property rights in AI-driven innovations.
  • IBM’s emphasis on selective patenting aligns with its dedication to open innovation, exemplified by platforms like watsonx, which integrate patented and open-source technologies to foster collaborative progress in AI.