Artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Thanks to ever more powerful computers and cheaper storage capacity, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), deep learning and other associated methods have become central to many technical fields. Whether used to control complex systems, simulate and predict the physical states of systems, edit images, interact with users, analyse data or design workpieces , AI and ML are being deployed in ever more fields in order to find more stable and complex solutions more quickly.
This is reflected by the fact that the number of patent application families for AI-based inventions has grown by almost 20% per annum in recent years – five times higher than average growth across all technological fields.
Unlike in the US, where instances of artificial intelligence can be protected as such using patents, neural networks, support vector machines and other instances of AI are classed as abstract mathematical models, meaning that they cannot be patented in this form. If, however, a specific technical effect, serving a specific technical purpose, is generated within these models, the technological application can also be patented within Germany and Europe as a computer-implemented invention. The same applies in respect of machine learning methods, such as the training of neural networks for specific technological applications using data and learning processes specially selected or prepared for this purpose.
AI systems are now so advanced that they can generate technological inventions themselves (computer-generated inventions, CGI) without a human having influenced them, apart from perhaps having set the task. AI-generated inventions are still so new that no consensus has been reached as to whether patents can be issued for them. The trend is, however, moving towards the notion that CGIs should not be excluded from patent protection, but that a natural person needs to be named as the inventor (cf. German Federal Patent Court). However, it has not been clarified what role the inventor needs to have played in the invention.
In recent years, SEEMANN & PARTNER have handled numerous AI- and ML-based patent applications in various technical fields and will be happy to advise you on issues in this area.