Interesting and Relevant IP-Related News
The IP Recap #62
19, March 2019
Having been researched since the 1960s, AI has been the subject matter of some 1.6M scientific publications. WIPO recently published an overview of how it is now shifting from a research subject into a subject of implementation. This is shown via how AI has been the topic of patented innovation, with nearly 340k patented inventions existing, and over half filed since 2013. This later upsurge in patents is characterized in the ratio of scientific publications to patented inventions going from 8:1 in 2010 to just 3:1 in 2016. The particular sub-area contributing heavily to this growth is deep learning, growing at an annual rate of 175% from 2013 to 2016.
Why it Matters
The stark upturn in patenting AI shows that it is now hitting the mainstream, moving from being a field of blue-skies research to heavy implementation. An analysis of the patents’ owners and technologies can show the fields receiving the incoming patents, which include banking, entertainment, security, industry, manufacturing, agriculture and networks, showing how broad-reaching the AI benefits are. They also highlight the potential data protection issues, and other policy challenges and AI itself is presenting that to the world of IP, with the EPO holding a conference last year to address these issues and issuing guidelines. Could AI be the saviour of software patents?
As reported by IPWatchdog recently, Amazon’s annual report included an interesting comment. They acknowledge to their shareholders that they may be unable to prevent sellers from listing illegal goods through their site. Much of this issue is how Amazon has its business split into 3, depending on whether they source and ship the goods, ship them and provide the selling platform, or just sell it through their platform, making it much harder to control as they may never even handle the physical goods.
Why it Matters
IP enforcement in this instance would usually require a cease and desist order to the seller, but when small third parties are involved then this involves endlessly chasing small sellers using the platform and eventually the onus to resolve the ongoing problem will fall at the feet of the platform. Amazon states that they are using AI, as well as teams of people, in order to try and resolve the issue. In the meantime, one of the very issues IP law exists to prevent is still one of the big issues with e-commerce.
EPO shows growth
While the US patent system is showing some signs of stagnation, with patent filings not growing from 2017-2018, the EPO’s recent report paints a different picture. Patent filings were increased by 4.6%, with applicants from EPO member states accounting for some 47% of the applicants. The number of applications from overseas did increase, with China, US and Japan increasing the filing proportions by 8.8, 2.7 and 3.9% respectively. This could be seen as a sign that European patents could be of high significance in years to come. Other stats of interest include how Biotech is the field with the most growth. While IBM has a tradition of topping the US patent filing list, they don’t even make the top 10 in Europe.
Why it Matters
Where people are choosing to seek patent protection is driven by many factors, including markets in which the patent owner considers to be key for the invention, as well as countries whose patent system is seen as being supportive of that type of technology and enforcement. The US stagnating comes at a time where there is much criticism of the US patent system, with many declaring it to be “broken”. However, the EPO will soon be offering the “Unitary Patent”, giving protection in all the EPO member states. With many countries having ratified it already, the unitary patent could soon be available, and could even take over from the US as the biggest patent system.
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