Patent Office Wants Public Feedback on Artificial Intelligence Inventions 


The agency will accept comments for 45 days. 

As artificial intelligence increasingly pervades technologies and businesses, the Patent and Trademark Office wants the public to weigh in on the difficulties that come with patenting it. The agency posed a series of questions regarding topics across patent policies and intellectual property protections in a request for comments released in the Federal Register Tuesday.

“The USPTO has been examining AI inventions for decades and has issued guidance in many areas that necessarily relate to AI inventions,” officials wrote. “Going forward, the USPTO would like 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.”

Much like patentability issues around “computer-implemented inventions,” guidelines for AI  require a great deal of thoughtful development, the solicitation notes. In an online leadership blog post published Monday, USPTO’s deputy director who also serves as the deputy undersecretary of Commerce for intellectual property, Laura Peter said the agency issued thousands of patents on AI technologies to date. 

She said this request is a “first step [that] will allow [USPTO] to gather information on AI patent policy issues for purposes of evaluating whether further guidance is needed and informing the development of any such guidance.”

The agency poses 12 questions regarding topics such as: the elements that make up an AI invention; the different ways a person can contribute to the conception of a project and be considered an inventor; whether patent laws, regulations or specifications around AI need to be revised; whether there are patent eligibility considerations unique to AI inventions; information about disclosure-related considerations; whether there are new forms of intellectual property protections like data protection needed for AI inventions, and others. 

Comments will be accepted for 45 days. 

In her post, Peter also noted that the agency plans to continue its active work with the AI academic and industrial community and will soon examine a “full spectrum” of issues regarding AI, including copyright and trademarks and whether new legal rights are needed.