Without any second thoughts, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest buzzword across the globe. While it is not a recent phenomenon, it has indeed entered our lives in the past few years more than ever before. Be it Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, or Google Assistant — all of them are powered by a backend AI engine, which is ever constantly changing and expanding
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the earliest adopters of the technology that utilized the AI engines in drug discovery and diagnosis of diseases. Furthermore, AI has been proven efficient, like human dermatologists, in identifying all the skin-related diseases. When we talk about patents and AI, there are multiple issues, which we shall be discussing now.
Patentability of AI-Based Inventions
With a complex and continuously evolving nature — AI is a software, and software patentability has been disapproved by several laws in different countries worldwide. Under Section 3(k) of the Indian Patent Act, the computer programs are not patentable. While the law seems to be united against patenting the AI-based inventions; however, there have been workarounds for patenting the software — for instance, in India, the software patents are allowed in the scenario where they are tied up with hardware.
The Prime Issue — AI as an Inventor
The most crucial issue in the patenting industry corresponds to AI being referred to as the inventor of the algorithms it designs or develops. DABUS — Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience — is an AI-based system developed by Dr. Stephen Thaler. He filed the Patent Applications for the same, with DABUS as the inventor, in the UK, US, and European Patent Office (EPO).
All three patent applications with DABUS as the inventor were rejected. The grounds for rejecting the same were that the laws, in the three nations, consider a natural person to be an inventor and not AI.
Without any doubt, there a major gap in the current laws, rules, and regulations, which the lawmakers around the world need to reconsider and address, specifically, in the case of AI-based inventions.
AI has affected many industries, and patents are no different in this scenario. The ultimate benefit of AI is that it shall make the entire process way faster and efficient at different levels, including Patent Search, Patent Examination, Patent Grant, and even Patent Licensing. The AI-based systems can help significantly in consuming the unstructured data and observing critical trends in the same. Additionally, an AI engine can absorb different patent data and identify the patterns in them. At present, AI has already been integrated into many patent search tools, which have made the searching process faster and convenient.
When it comes to patents, AI is still very much at the growing stage, and we all are yet to explore all the potential benefits that it can offer. It is a matter of fact that yes — the AI-based systems shall prove to be exceedingly beneficial for one and all by making the patent process way more efficient and faster. The only concern is that patent laws worldwide seem to be lagging in this scenario, as most of them were framed when AI was an imaginative concept. Now, in the present digital era, there is a need to update the laws, so that they match well with AI.
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