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Enhancing patent examination with AI

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AI has been recognized as a key asset in developing India’s technological capabilities. And with the widespread use of AI across all industries, facilitating and protecting AI innovation is critical, and the best way to do this is via patenting.

In fact, over the past decade, India has ranked 8th globally in the number of patent filings and 4th in AI research papers published, making it an important emerging market for AI innovation.

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Patents, however, can take a long time to be approved, given the significant task of patent examination and prosecution. And that is where the other application of AI in the patent space comes in — that of assisting the patent filing and examination process itself.

The growth of AI innovations in India

According to a recent study by INDIAai about the Indian AI innovation landscape, there has been a significant uptick in the number of AI patents filed over the last few years. During the pandemic, over 70% of the tech patents filed related to the emerging tech domain, of which AI accounted for 6%.

One of the most popular AI technologies among the filed patents is Machine learning followed by computer vision. In addition, some of the most popular areas targeted by AI technologies were consumer electronics, personal computing devices, and healthcare.

How AI is being used in patent examination and prosecution

The use of AI in patent examination has brought many significant changes in patent examination and prosecution globally which resulted in improved speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

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AI-powered search engines enhance patent searches by quickly analyzing vast datasets, often incorporating semantic search capabilities to identify relevant documents beyond keyword matches. Machine learning models, like LLMs, aid decision-making by evaluating prior art and legal precedents, extracting key information, and summarizing documents. This improves the quality of patent examinations by reducing the risk of overlooking crucial prior art and expedites the entire process.

AI algorithms are also proving valuable in reducing office actions and costs by efficiently analyzing patents and vast amounts of data. This allows examiners to focus their expertise on complex evaluations rather than routine tasks. Predictive models, trained on historical data, can identify potential infringements, improving decision-making and protecting inventors’ rights.

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The automation of patent classification is another area where AI excels. AI-powered prediction functions, trained on extensive datasets, can accurately determine relevant classification classes based on patent descriptions, smoothly assigning applications to the appropriate examination teams and minimizing delays.

AI is also enhancing the accuracy and precision of patent searches. By combining expert Boolean searches with AI-powered semantic searches, examiners gain a comprehensive understanding of prior art and help find information that’s not only directly related but also indirectly connected to the topic being searched. Additionally, AI recommendation engines suggest relevant records that might have been overlooked, further optimizing search strategies.

Finally, AI-powered tools are automating quality inspection of patent applications, identifying issues like incorrect numbering, incomplete descriptions, syntax errors, and more. This allows examiners to focus on higher-level analyses, such as evaluating claim breadth or identifying ambiguities. In addition, AI can help identify inconsistencies in claim language or formatting errors, improving the quality of patent applications before they are granted.

As AI technologies continue to evolve, we can expect even greater advancements in patent examination, leading to a more robust and efficient intellectual property system.

The human element in AI-powered patent examination

AI in patent analysis is a powerful enhancement, not a replacement, for human expertise. While AI excels at text analysis, pattern recognition, and data correlation, the final call on patent applications must reside with examiners. Their ability to discern subtleties and contribute unique perspectives toward the patent approval criteria remains unmatched. To ensure AI’s effectiveness, continuous training with varied and current data is necessary. This mitigates the risk of bias creeping into the models’ decision-making capabilities.

The way forward

As human creativity sparks a constant flow of new inventions, AI emerges as a powerful tool to expedite the patent examination process. Governments around the world, including the US Patent Office, are already integrating this technology.

The Indian Patent Office has made strides in transparency and speed and is now working towards ensuring consistent and objective examinations. AI’s unmatched speed and accuracy offer a promising solution to this goal. By utilizing AI alongside well-defined patent policies, clear guidelines, and comprehensive patent databases, India can strengthen its innovation landscape and accelerate the time it takes for deserving inventions to reach the market. This strategic approach will unlock exponential growth in India’s AI journey.

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Manish Sinha
Manish Sinha
Manish Sinha, Founder and CTO of PatSeer
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