By Manish Sinha, Founder & CTO, PatSeer
Protecting intellectual property (IP) is key to encouraging human innovation across scientific, technical, and creative fields. Particularly in an era where copycat innovations pop up across the globe much faster than before, we need strong safeguards to ensure that human intelligence and efforts are given their due worth.
That’s where patents come in, and while many might see artificial intelligence (AI) as the enemy of original thought, AI can, in fact, be a powerful ally in using AI in the patent process, increasing the efficiency of patent operations and thereby securing patent protection faster.
The Case For Using AI in Patent Process
Traditionally, patent research has been a time-consuming and onerous process. Conducting thorough research to prove that the patent in question is unique and providing responses to the examiner’s objections can take up to several years. Many a time, especially in the high-tech space, the market may have evolved beyond the point where getting a patent is useful for dissuading competition.
Using AI in patent process can make the research and analysis process exponentially more efficient. A suitably designed semantic search algorithm can quickly scan patents and scientific literature with strong similarities to the patent being applied for. The patent attorney can leverage this information to prepare a well-drafted application with suitable references to prior art. This reduces the risk of applications being rejected, can reduce the time spent in prosecution, and also protects the filing party from objections later.
Beyond search, using AI In patent process can also help in summarizing the key concepts and benefits of the patents in question, saving patent lawyers the time and cost of having to decipher the documents themselves. Furthermore, using AI in patents through AI-driven patent platforms can help to create centralized data environments where stakeholders can easily and securely collaborate, thus speeding up internal workflows and making patent operations efficient.
Using AI in patents process significantly cuts down on administrative costs and can save several hours a week.
Drawbacks of Using AI Patent Process
However, using AI in patent process in any sphere of business generates its own questions and concerns. The biggest concern for inventors is data privacy, as AI search tools require the invention details to ascertain that the idea being applied is unique. It is, therefore, important for the users to verify the pedigree and security certifications of the patent platform on which they are conducting their research, before using AI in patent process.
Additionally, there is also the risk of bias in the patent search results. It’s important to remember that AI algorithms are only as good as the training data fed into them and that biased data will produce biased results. If an algorithm is trained simply over X/Y citation data, for instance, it may end up compromising accuracy or fairness in the patent search results.
It is for this reason that the role of humans in patent processes will always be significant. While using AI in patent process is certainly faster than humans on the search front, there’s no substitute for the perspective that patent professionals bring. Writing a patent claim, for instance, requires the input of an experienced patent lawyer who understands the nuances of your invention and the overall fencing strategy being built around it.
AI tools like ChatGPT might mimic the drafting style and tone but will not be able to create a draft that covers all the loopholes required for the robust protection of your idea. There’s also the fact that AI search results aren’t always perfect; at the end of the day, a human patent team needs to be the one verifying the output, determining whether or not certain conditions constitute a patent similarity or overlap.
The Future of Using AI in Patent Law
AI’s role in our daily lives will only increase from here on out. With AI already coding apps and composing music, it’s likely that many of the items we use every day might someday be the “brainchild” of artificial intelligence. It has come to a point where many are predicting an end of patent law as it stands, which isn’t as far-fetched as one might think. Current patent laws only identify humans as inventors/creators, which means that AI-created inventions don’t actually have any legal standing. As AI creation proliferates, therefore, laws might well have to be rewritten to accommodate “artificial inventors” and to define scenarios where AI is partly or wholly involved in the invention process.
Some have recognized this and are taking steps to work with the change rather than against it. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), for instance, has an AI and Emerging Technology Partnership that studies the role of AI in innovation and how that might be harnessed for economic prosperity. In addition, Australia’s federal court rules that an AI system can be named an inventor on a patent application, as per the Patents Act 1990. As AI inventions pick up steam and humans grow to rely on AI contributions, more such rulings are likely to be passed around the world.
Using AI in Patents: Final Thoughts
As AI grows in popularity and capability, its role in innovation will become bigger and bigger. Accordingly, we’re likely to see modifications to patent law that accommodate AI-originated inventions while safeguarding the unique creative and intellectual endeavors that only humans are capable of. It’s important to remember that much of what AI can do is yet to be seen and that patent professionals will have to keep themselves informed on its applications and potential ramifications. With due acknowledgment of changing times and a shared willingness to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of AI, patent strategy and law can reshape itself to benefit the interests of both human and artificial agents.