Machine learning patents are on the rise – why it matters

Machine Learning is Growing

Machine learning is certainly in the news, with hundreds of recent articles about how the technology is being used for everything from predicting human cell organization to finding new galaxies to helping farmers boost yields.
According to Google Trends, the popularity of the machine learning term over the last five years, as searched on Google, has increased from 18 to 96 (100 being the highest possible score). Additionally, if you look at the number of machine learning-related patent applications published by the United States Patent Office over the past few years you will see a similar amount of growth. A recent article from Datanami shared data from a National Bureau of Economic Research study that found machine learning patent applications jumped from 145 in 2010 to 594 in 2016 and patents for neural networks increased from 94 to 485 over the same timeframe.
What does this mean for tech companies? Well, as the number of patent applications in this technology area increases, so too does the risk for companies that do not protect their inventions. Intellectual property is the foundation upon which technology organizations are built. What’s to say one of the countless new machine learning companies popping up each year won’t build the tech you have already developed? Obtaining patents that protect your company’s innovations is the way to ensure you don’t fall victim to this fate. As companies in previous “hot” technology areas can attest, protecting one’s competitive advantage secures a spot in the marketplace.
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