Patents for AI: much is at stake

I just noticed that my little video about AI patents and enablement is approaching 500 views since I uploaded it last Wednesday. That’s exceeding my expectations by far, so:

Thank you all so much for your likes, shares and comments on Youtube and LinkedIn! 

Here’s the video, in case you’ve missed it:

That said, there’s much going on in the “patents and artificial intelligence” space these days. The Enlarged Board of Appeal published some preliminary remarks in the G1/19 referral concerning the patentability of computer simluations. The oral proceedings will take place next Wednesday, 15 July and it’s possible to attend via live streaming.

This will most probably be a historical case, so I’ll be watching the live stream, of course. I plan to make a short video with my first reactions right after the hearing. That one will hopefully be up on Wednesday evening.

Talk to you then,

Own it

Before your startup signs that joint development agreement with a big corporation, be sure to file proper patent applications.

After the agreement is signed, there is only a “collective you”, so now is the time to document your ownership of the IP that you will bring into the project.

PS: This thought got a good amount of traction on LinkedIn. One commenter rightly added that it’s very important to define in the development agreement what happens with the IP generated within the project. He said “Make i.a. sure that you have access to this IP to be able to market your products (and not to be blocked) in the area of business that is important to your company.”

Can software be patented?

One of my favorite questions, obviously. And it came up again in my lecture about patents for startups last Monday.

Short answer: It depends on what the software does. If it solves a technical problem, then yes.

For an initial “technicality” assessment, rely on your gut feeling, but ask a patent attorney who is specialized in computer-implemented inventions for the details.

Also, here’s an overview article I wrote that summarizes the basics of software patenting in Europe.

Choosers and pickers

Sometimes you need to be a chooser and weigh all options carefully. For example when you buy a house or pick your patent attorney.

In other situations you need to be a picker and save your mental resources for other things. For example when the waiter asks you what you would like to have for lunch.

The tricky thing is to know when to be the one or the other.

I got this picker/chooser idea from a podcast but can’t remember which one. Let me know if you know the source.

Productivity hack (for patent professionals) #1

Some folks asked me to share some of my productivity hacks, so here’s one of them:

At the end of each workday, I select the exact tasks I want/need to work on tomorrow. I put them in my calendar (yes, I really make appointments with myself). I make sure that everything I will need is directly in reach.

This involves things like:

  • Putting the paper file on my desk if I’ll work in the office
  • Downloading the files I’ll need from our document management system if I’ll be working from home
  • Putting that booking number directly into my calendar appointment so that I can check-in for my flight right-away
  • Putting the text for that scheduled social media post directly into my calendar appointment (having a clear structure for time sinks like social media is probably a topic for another hack)

You see, the overall goal is to minimize “ramp-up time” in everything I do.

Disclaimer: This works for me, but might not work for you obviously, so apply with caution.

Please let me know if this is helpful, and I might share more productivity hacks. Also, please don’t be selfish and share one of your productivity hacks in the comments 😉

Three power hacks for more productivity

Three power hacks for more productivity:

  1. Take care of your body and mind: sleep, exercise, nutrition
  2. Structure your day: think maker schedule vs manager schedule, and consciously decide in which mode you’re operating
  3. See the bigger picture, and pick the right things to work on

I just got this from Jonathan Morrice on Tijen Onaran‘s How To Hack podcast. Absolutely recommended if you’re into new work, productivity, entrepreneurship, social media and whatnot.

If you don’t know the difference between a maker and manager schedule, you probably don’t make optimal use of your time. Here’s a good explanation.

What are your productivity hacks?

Can an AI be an inventor? No, says the EPO

Do you remember the two patent applications filed in the context of the Artificial Inventor Project which named an AI system called DABUS as inventor and which were refused by the EPO?

The EPO has just published the written reasons of the decisions.

As a reminder, in the designation of the inventor filed in both cases, a machine named DABUS was indicated as the sole inventor:

Designation of inventor in EP 18275163.6

In the original designation of the inventor, the applicant indicated that he had acquired the right to the European patent as employer. In a later submission, the applicant filed a corrected designation of the inventor indicating that the he had obtained the right as a successor in title.

The applicant explained that the invention had been made by a machine which “identified the novelty of its own idea before a natural person did”. Therefore, so the applicant, the machine should be recognized as the inventor and the applicant, as the owner of the machine, was an assignee of any IP rights created by this machine.

For both patent applications EP 18 275 163 (EP 3 564 144 – “Food Container”) and EP 18 275 174 (EP 3 563 896 – “Devices and MEthods for Attracting Enhanced Attention”), the Receiving Section of the EPO has decided:

The application is refused in accordance with Article 90(5) EPC since the designation of inventor filed for the application does not meet the requirement of Article 81 and Rule 19 EPC.

In a nutshell, the EPO’s point of view is that the inventor designated in a European patent must be a natural person, and not a machine.

The written reasoning is worth a read and can be found here:

It will be interesting to see whether the applicant will appeal the decisions and take the cases to the Boards of Appeal.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash