The What, Why, and How of Automated Patent Decision-making

Author: Ryan Whalen

Published on The Amsterdam Law & Technology Institute website

Published on May 9, 2022

Introduction: The patent system is slow, expensive, and inaccurate. So much so that some refer to it as “broken.”1 Meanwhile, patent applications are increasing in number and complexity.2 Examiners are overworked, which leads them to make more incorrect decisions.3 This has led some to advocate for increased use of technologies, and in particular patentability classifiers, at patent offices.4
This essay provides an overview of issues related to implementing automated patentability decision-making technologies within patent offices. It first briefly discusses the technologies in question, underpinned by advances in machine learning and natural language processing. The subsequent section explores why the patent system is a prime candidate for the adoption of increased automation. Finally, it turns to exploring different ways these technologies could contribute to existing patent examination processes, or enable the development of new categories of “machine examined” patent grants with distinct legal protections.

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