Revised EU Examination guidelines: EPO Clears the way for AI & Machine learning Patents

11.03.2019

By Adv. & Patent Attorney Roy Melzer, Head of Software, Information Sys. Department

The European patent office (EPO) recently published its revised guidelines for examination. The new guidelines include a new section that specifically addresses Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning inventions, which are defined as computational models and algorithms for classification, clustering, regression and dimensionality reduction.

The new section holds clear advice regarding the successful prosecution of AI and machine learning inventions and ways to avoid rendering the invention as “computational” and therefore abstract and not patentable per se. According to the revised guidelines, an AI or machine learning invention should be applied to an actual technical problem in order to become eligible for patent protection.  This means that if an AI or machine learning invention has a technical affect on an actual problem it will probably be patentable under EU patent law.

AI and machine learning are a huge part of the future. Subsequently, as more and more jurisdictions gradually realize, granting legal certainty and stronger patent protection with regards to AI and machine learning inventions will undoubtably lead to more investments and R&D in this ground-breaking field of research. Global statistics regarding patent filing of AI and machine learning inventions confirms that this field of technology is developing at a very rapid pace. In the last decade, the number of AI and Machine learning related patent registrations increased by 250% worldwide. Furthermore, the number of global patent applications of AI and machine learning inventions has increased by six between 2006 and 2016.

The European patent office has paved the way for more legal certainty that will lead to even more AI and machine learning patents and much more investment in R&D. These patents will undoubtably shape most aspects of the future of mankind.

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