EPO Issues First Guidelines on AI Patents
The European Patent Office (EPO) has issued official guidelines on the patenting of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. The guidelines became valid on November 1st, 2018. When determining whether the claimed subject-matter satisfies this condition, the guidelines note that expressions such as “support vector machine,” “reasoning engine” or “neural network” may not qualify, as these are regarded as terms for mathematical methods which do not have a unique technical character of their own.
The EPO provided examples of mathematical methods (ie artificial intelligence and machine learning related applications) which can pass the technical character threshold: Digital audio, image or video enhancement or analysis, e.g. de-noising, detecting persons in a digital image, estimating the quality of a transmitted digital audio signal;Separation of sources in speech signals; speech recognition, e.g. mapping a speech input to a text output;Encoding data for reliable and/or efficient transmission or storage (and corresponding decoding), e.g. error-correction coding of data for transmission over a noisy channel, compression of audio, image, video or sensor data;Encrypting/decrypting or signing electronic communications; generating keys in an RSA cryptographic system;Optimising load distribution in a computer network;Providing a medical diagnosis by an automated system processing physiological measurements(A generic purpose such as “controlling a technical system” is not sufficient to confer a technical character to the mathematical method. The technical purpose must be a specific one.)