Patent practitioners and others in the world of intellectual property have expended significant time and money seeking to protect innovation in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). But what happens when an AI tries to patent something itself? Will such an event be possible? If so, who would be named as the inventor? And who would own the rights to the invention?
Given the pace at which machine learning is accelerating, these are the types of questions the patent system will soon have to answer. With computers driving cars, winning Go tournaments, performing surgeries, and much more, it’s only a matter of time before an AI is itself capable of inventing patentable subject matter.
It’s therefore no surprise that Andrei Iancu, the director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), solicited public comments last summer on the topic of patenting AI inventions. The goal, according to the USPTO was:
to engage with the innovation community and experts in AI to determine whether further guidance is needed to promote the predictability and reliability of patenting such inventions and to ensure that appropriate patent protection incentives are in place to encourage further innovation in and around this critical area.