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Section 101/Alice Patent Ineligibility Would Include Artificial Intelligence and Blockchains

So why do many firms still pursue patents in AI and blockchain 'clothing'?

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Formula for success at the patent offices (sometimes), but not at patent courts



Summary: In an effort to make algorithms sound more advanced or more scientific applicants now ride the hype waves (fashionable trends), hoping that examiners would grant out of ignorance (of the said buzzwords/hype)

THE patenting of software was always our first and foremost concern, predating by 8 years our in-depth EPO coverage, which also concerns software patents in Europe.



In the United States we've been seeing a retreat to buzzwords and hype; applicants try to disguise the fact that the patents they pursue simply cover some algorithms. Buzzwords and hype are increasingly being used to pursue software patents that are totally bunk. Such patents would be invalidated in courts (if that ever reached them).

"In the United States we've been seeing a retreat to buzzword and hype; applicants try to disguise the fact that the patents they pursue simply cover some algorithms."Bereskin & Parr LLP's Isi Caulder and Paul Blizzard have just published this article at Lexology; it speaks of "Expanding Use of AI and ML software at Intellectual Property Offices (IPOs)," by which they mean automation of examination and search using clever algorithms, not necessarily patenting of these underlying algorithms.

To quote:

On February 8th, 2018 the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) released a summary[1] of the replies given by national and regional IPOs about the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) software in the administration at the IPO, and the results are a very interesting perspective on the adoption of various legal tech initiatives in government and administrative environments.

[...]

The report pointed to numerous different use cases for AI in the administration of IP, including automatic patent classification, automatic recommendation of classes for goods and services in Trademark applications, prior art searching and analytics, Trademark image searching, Trademark examination as a whole, helpdesk services for Applicants, general administrative tasks for IP management, machine translation of foreign language documents, and data analysis for economic research.


WIPO, incidentally, also promotes patents on so-called 'AI', not just use of it for patent processes. The EPO has been doing a lot of that lately.

Strafford now promotes software patents under the umbrella of "Machine Learning"; those are software patents and mathematics, statistics. Those would not be valid under ۤ 101, but they frame it as a sort of open question: "How can patent counsel meet the requirements under ۤ101 and ۤ112 in machine learning patent applications?"

"Aside from the "AI" hype there's also "blockchain" and patents that claim to be on or pertaining to blockchains."Well, Strafford is just interested in litigation (see this other webinar it has just advertised; it's about PPH).

Aside from the "AI" hype there's also "blockchain" and patents that claim to be on or pertaining to blockchains. These are worthless patents. They would never withstand scrutiny of higher courts. It's part of a patent gold rush in the US and elsewhere. Days ago there was this article about it which said:

While the landscape for blockchain is still in its infancy, its potential has led the world’s leading accounting firms to explore ways to implement the emerging technology in their work. The latest is Ernst & Young LLP which has acquired certain technology assets and patents to boost its services for crypto assets.

Accounting services firm has purchased the Andy Crypto-Asset Accounting and Tax (CAAT) tool from the US-based startup Elevated Consciousness, Inc. The solution connects with multiple cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets, allowing for better visibility into cryptocurrency transactions.


Those are just software patents. We couldn't help noticing this new tweet, which correctly points out: "What kind of protection today are #blockchain patent owners expecting? Even with long claims (which diminishes value) the courts can quickly invalidate under #Alice for abstraction. Is long term bet that eligibility laws will open up?"

"If quality control isn't taken seriously, people will gradually learn that there's no point bothering with the system."Where we are at the moment isn't too encouraging; patent offices grant software patents under the guise of supporting "AI" and other vague concepts; what will happen when many of these patents get invalidated, ruining confidence in the remainder and devaluing the system? If quality control isn't taken seriously, people will gradually learn that there's no point bothering with the system.

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