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USPTO Seeks Further Input on Patent Requirements for AI-Assisted Inventions

Patent

The ongoing debate over inventorship requirements for artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted inventions has taken another turn, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has reopened the public comment period on this complex issue. While the USPTO provided initial guidance in February, the agency is now revisiting the boundaries around human involvement. Which is necessary to qualify for patent protection on AI-generated advances.

This is a pivotal juncture that could reshape innovation incentives across industries leveraging AI and machine learning capabilities. At Stevens Law Group, our patent prosecution team has been actively evaluating the USPTO’s approach. Also counseling clients to ensure their AI-driven inventions receive the strongest possible protections.

Criticism of USPTO’s Initial AI Inventorship Test

The USPTO’s February 2023 guidance adopted the “significant contribution” test from the Federal Circuit’s 1998 Pannu v. Iolab decision on joint inventorship. This multi-factor analysis probes the respective contributions of human inventors and AI systems to the conception of an invention.

However, multiple commenters have pushed back on applying Pannu’s person-to-person framework in the AI context. The Council for Innovation Promotion (C4IP) argues the test improperly evaluates the “manner” in which an invention was made. Contrary to 35 U.S.C. § 103’s dictates that patentability must not be negated based on the specific inventive process used.

Similarly, attorney Stephen Y. Chow contends that Pannu injects too much uncertainty into evaluating the pivotal “human conception” element required for AI-assisted inventions. He advocates reinstating a clearer focus on the operative moment when an inventor’s mind grasps the full invention.

Calls for More Clarity and Examples Other stakeholders like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged the USPTO to provide more concrete examples illustrating successful claims of inventorship involving significant human contributions to AI-generated inventions. Clear guideposts are especially needed around the types of AI prompts that would – or would not – constitute a patentable “contribution” by the human developer.

This echoes the core concern that overly stringent inventorship standards could dampen innovation by disqualifying patent eligibility merely because of the tools or processes, including AI systems, used to achieve an inventive result. Such curtailment could undermine U.S. competitiveness in critical AI and machine learning fields.

National Security Implications

This theme of bolstering America’s AI primacy shapes the joint filing by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Special Competitive Studies Project. The two policy organizations directly link robust patent protections for AI-assisted inventions to maintaining technological advantages over strategic rivals like China.

Their recommendations include more precisely delineating what constitutes a qualifying “AI system” versus generalized computing tools. They further caution against equating human and machine “contributions” in ways that could unfairly diminish inventors’ roles simply due to their AI tool choice – a factor irrelevant under § 103.

Toward Balanced, Innovation-Promoting Guidance As the comment period proceeds, Stevens Law Group will continue critically examining the USPTO’s evolving position on this issue with significant ramifications across domains unleashing AI’s creative potential – from drug discovery to materials engineering and autonomous vehicle operation. We welcome inquiries regarding portfolio development, patent filings, and prosecution strategies best positioned to withstand shifting AI inventorship standards.

Our goal is to help the USPTO land on appropriately balanced guidance facilitating broad patent eligibility for AI-assisted inventions meeting core inventorship criteria. This will incentivize continued U.S. leadership in AI breakthroughs by rewarding human ingenuity and inventive applications, not impeding protection based on the specific computational methods employed.

In this rapidly evolving technological frontier, rely on Stevens Law Group’s interdisciplinary team combining AI expertise with extensive patent experience. It will help to secure the strongest protections for your AI-driven innovations and maintain your competitive advantage.

For further guidance on navigating the complexities of IP law in the age of AI, contact us at Stevens Law Group. Our team of experienced IP attorneys is here to help you protect your innovations and grow your business in an evolving legal landscape.

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