While running the analysis for our full AI Report , we noticed some interesting trends in the Agritech sector. In particular, the European Patent Office (EPO) has seen a remarkable increase in the number of AI patent filings in the Agritech sector in recent years. In 2015, we see that AI patent filings in the Agritech sector have doubled compared to previous years, and by 2019 the AI patent filings have increased more than ten times.
It has also been interesting to see a change in the types of technology being protected. For the period between 2000 and 2014, the majority of the Agritech AI patent filings related to organic and biochemistry, as well as methods for testing and analysis of biological materials. More recently however, the AI patent filings in this sector are dominated by control systems for autonomous vehicles, for example automatic pilot and guidance systems for agricultural machines, and pattern recognition technology for use in vehicle navigation and crop monitoring.
Although a similar level of growth is seen in the transport sector, the increase in AI patent filings in Agritech seems to start a few years later. The growing role of autonomous vehicles in the transport space may have led to a subsequent realization of the potential value of this technology in Agriculture, where it can be used to improve the efficiency and profitability of farming processes.
The Agriculture category also had the second highest allowance rate for AI patent applications at the EPO, and many innovations in this area are likely to be protectable under the EPO approach to patentability of software based innovations.
See our full AI Report for more insights into how patents are being used to protect innovation in AI in Europe.