The UK Intellectual Property Office published, on 7 September 2020, a call for views on the future of Artificial Intelligence and the UK IP framework.
Artificial intelligence is increasingly an important tool in industry. Not just in computer science but in almost all fields of industry. And where an AI innovation provides a benefit to users, many would like to protect it with a patent. The European Patent Office (EPO) recognises this. In 2017 the EPO published a study on the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ that identified AI as a key enabling technology. As we reported previously, the EPO has held a conference discussing the patentability of AI. And the EPO has recently announced that their Berlin branch is to become a centre of expertise in AI. So it is worth looking at how AI inventions can be patented in Europe.
On 9th July 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down their emphatic judgement concerning Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) in Santen v INPI (C‑673/18). For those interested in the details and history of the case they can be found in my earlier blog, published in January, where I discussed the Advocate General’s preliminary and non-binding opinion. As far as this judgement is concerned the conclusion is clear: “a marketing authorisation (MA) cannot be considered to be the first MA … where it covers a new therapeutic application of an active ingredient, or of a combination of active ingredients, and that active ingredient or combination has already been the subject of an MA for a different therapeutic application” – emphasis added Put another way, the CJEU has decided that the literal wording of Articles 1(a), (b) and 3(d) of the SPC Regulation mean what they say. The previous CJEU decision in Neurim is consigned to the scrapheap.
Innovations in Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are typically implemented in software and so can be challenging to patent at the European Patent Office. Firstly, patent protection for the invention must not be ruled out by the “software as such” exclusion of Article 52 EPC, and the invention must therefore solve a notional “technical problem”. Secondly, it must be possible to reduce an often complicated inventive concept to a single paragraph of text that can act as a patent claim. By way of illustration, this article looks at the patented smart home technology behind Nest Lab’s (“Nest”) learning thermostat, and explores how innovative start-ups can effectively protect their inventions.
rocery delivery service Ocado was forced to temporarily suspend parts of its online service last month due to coronavirus (Covid-19). The panic buying induced by the virus resulted in a tenfold increase demand. However, even before this unprecedented surge Ocado has been steadily growing over recent years. A quick Google search shows the impressive growth of Ocado’s share price since its initial public offering. Investment in technology and intellectual property (IP) have played a major role in this growth.
In a report of 12 March 2020 titled Digital technologies take top spot in European patent applications, the European Patent Office reports overall European patent applications were up by 4% in 2019 compared to 2018. Best performer in 2019 was digital communications with an almost 20% rise pushing medical technologies off the top filing technology spot for the first time since 2006.
British Science Week is here, a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics for children in the UK. This year children are being introduced to the world of training artificial intelligence data sets. 2020’s eagerly anticipated Citizen Science “Zooniverse” partnership ramps up the “zoo” and shrinks the “universe” to a few chunks of South America. The public are being asked to help save spider monkeys, a lovable group of primates under threat from our insatiable appetite for palm oil.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has once again been in the news in the Intellectual Property world. Some of our previous insights have commented on AI innovation and in particular how different Patent Offices examine patentability of AI inventions. In short, AI inventions can in principle be patentable, but do have to meet the same criteria as patent applications in other fields. Patent Offices will examine all inventions following the law, case law and well established guidelines which seek to provide legal certainty for all users. However, the European Patent Office has just published its decision setting out the reasons for its refusal of two European patent applications in which an AI system was designated as inventor.