Google asserts that the patent industry stands to benefit from AI and machine learning models like BERT, a natural language processing algorithm that attained state-of-the-art results when it was released in 2018. In a whitepaper published today, the tech giant outlines a methodology to train a BERT model on over 100 million patent publications from the U.S. and other countries using open-source tooling, which can then be used to determine the novelty of patents and generate classifications to assist with categorization. The global patent corpus is large, with millions of new patents issued every year. Patent applications average around 10,000 words and are meticulously wordsmithed by inventors, lawyers, and patent examiners. Patent filings are also written with language that can be unintelligible to lay readers and highly context-dependent; many terms are used to mean completely different things in different patents.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released a report titled "Public Views on Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property Policy." The new report represents the agency's firm commitment to keeping pace with this rapidly changing and critical technology in order to accelerate American innovation. "On February 11, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13859 announcing the American Artificial Intelligence Initiative, our nation's strategy on artificial intelligence," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. "As artificial intelligence technologies continue to advance, the United States will not cede leadership in global innovation. The Department of Commerce recognizes the importance of harnessing American ingenuity to advance and protect our economic security." "The USPTO has long been committed to ensuring our nation maintains its leadership in all areas of innovation, especially in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence," said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO.
The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) held its third "Conversation on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence" on November 4, 2020, to discuss its revised issues paper on Intellectual Property Policy and Artificial Intelligence. Public bodies in the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union have each recently published reports on the interrelationship of AI on IP policy. In October 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a report, Public Views on Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property Policy, on two formal requests for comments, and the European Parliament published a report on intellectual property rights for the development of AI technologies. In September 2020, the UK's Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) published a call for views on the policy considerations and future relationship between AI and IP. Courts in each jurisdiction have so far rejected the suggestion that AI has its own legal personality.
Andrei Iancu, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), says that the courts have strayed on the issue of patent eligibility, including signaling he thought algorithms using artificial intelligence were patentable as a general proposition. That came in a USPTO oversight hearing Wednesday (April 18) before a generally supportive Senate Judiciary Committee panel. Both Iancu and the legislators were in agreement that more clarity was needed in the area of computer-related patents, and that PTO needed to provide more precedential opinions when issuing patents so it was not trying to reinvent the wheel each time and to better guide courts. At issue are Supreme Court decisions that Iancu said had injected "a degree of uncertainty" into that area of law. He said PTO would come up with guidelines to help better define what is patent-eligible, but that it was a challenge that needed to be addressed by Congress and stakeholders as well.
Filing a patent is the clerical equivalent of pulling teeth -- at least in the U.S. It first requires inventors to determine the type of intellectual property (IP) protection they require (i.e., utility, design, or plant). Then they're on the hook to conduct a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database search for similar inventions. If and only if the novelty of their idea passes muster are they allowed to proceed to the next step, which is preparing an application and fees. The system has motivated people like former aerospace engineer Dr. Stephen Thaler to turn to AI in pursuit of a better way. He, along with a team of legal experts and engineers, developed DABUS, a "creativity machine" that's able to generate ideas without human intervention.