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International Business Services

International tax is ever-changing, with complex rules, evolving regulations, and a need for local focus. Our international tax advisors provide cross-border tax solutions for multinational middle market businesses.


January 22, 2019


  • US businesses filed 29% of all global blockchain patents in 2017
  • Chinese companies have big lead in developing AI technology
  • US Government may need to consider more R&D tax credits to keep pace with China

29% of all global patents for blockchain technology were filed by US businesses last year – ranking them second in the world – with 92 patents from a total of 314 filed with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 2017, shows a new study by UHY, the international accounting and consultancy network.

In comparison, Chinese businesses filed 32% of all global patents for blockchain technology in 2017. Chinese businesses have invested heavily in blockchain technology in recent years, with the Chinese central bank supporting the development of a blockchain-based trade finance platform to help SMEs access finance. 

The study shows that Australian businesses were third, filing 40 patents (13%), with UK businesses in fourth, filing 34 patents related to blockchain (11%) with WIPO in 2017 (see table below).

In the United States, the largest filer of global blockchain patents was credit card provider Mastercard, which filed patents for developments including a system for offline blockchain exchanges.

UHY adds that the biggest filer of global blockchain patents last year was nChain, a blockchain-focused research firm based in London and Vancouver, which filed 48 patents for blockchain technology at WIPO in 2017. 

UHY says that to help increase blockchain innovation even further in the US, the Emerging Technology Office of the General Services Administration launched the US Federal Blockchain programme. This is designed to help US businesses that are interested in exploring blockchain technology and its implementation within Government.

UHY explains that while European businesses have only filed a limited number of patents at the global level through WIPO, many have been more active at a local level. 

US businesses rank second in the world for patenting new blockchain technology

US businesses also ahead of international rivals for  developing Artificial Intelligence technology

The study also shows that US businesses are responsible for filing 65 patents related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology with WIPO last year. This represents 10% of all Artificial Intelligence related patents and is second only to the number patented by Chinese businesses.

China is ahead of its global competitors by some distance in the race to build portfolios of intellectual property in Artificial Intelligence. Chinese businesses filed 473 out of the 649 Artificial Intelligence patents (31%) filed with WIPO last year. (see table below).

UHY says that Chinese businesses like Baidu – often described as the ‘Google of China’ – and technology and social media conglomerate Tencent are among the world’s leading developers of Artificial Intelligence technology. Baidu filed the most Artificial Intelligence patents at WIPO in 2017, with 183.

Global competition over Artificial Intelligence technology has heated up in recent years, with many national governments putting in place programmes to support businesses and universities in developing Artificial Intelligence clusters and bringing technology to market.

UHY says the US Federal Government has prioritised funding for Artificial Intelligence and other innovative new technology. Since 2015, its investment in unclassified R&D for Artificial Intelligence and related technologies has grown by over 40%.

In September 2018, the US President signed a Presidential Memorandum prioritizing high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education. It has a particular focus on computer science education and committed $200 million in grand funds, matched by $300 million in private industry commitments.

The US’ largest filer of Artificial Intelligence patents with WIPO in 2017 was Berkeley-based start-up Bonsai AI with seven. Microsoft announced its acquisition of the business in June 2018.

New Artificial Intelligence technology developments dominated by Chinese companies – US businesses rank second

Rick David, Chairman of UHY and Chief Operating Officer of UHY Advisors in the US, comments: “The US is a world leader for developing and patenting new technology, especially related to blockchain and Artificial Intelligence.”

“In recent years, the US Federal Government has introduced a range of new programmes designed to encourage R&D. The Trump Administration has also prioritized funding for fundamental Artificial Intelligence research and computing infrastructure, machine learning and autonomous systems.”

“Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence could unlock significant economic growth over the coming decades. Developing Artificial Intelligence technology is also going to be critical in determining which businesses will emerge as leaders from the next industrial revolution.”

“The businesses that are positioned best in the long term are those that benefit from private enterprise and government both investing to bring Artificial Intelligence technology to mass markets.”

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