Survey: 80% Worried About Recognizing AI as Patent Inventor; Respondents Fear Increase in Unverified Inventions

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Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words “Artificial Intelligence AI” in this illustration taken on Feb. 19, 2024.

Recognizing AI as a patent inventor could be problematic, according to more than 80% of companies and organizations recently surveyed by an expert committee of the Japan Patent Office.

Respondents’ concerns included the possibility of more inventions for which it had not been verified whether the product or technology involved was feasible. The survey results are to be published soon.

With the rapid evolution of generative AI, there are expected to be more patent applications for inventions utilizing AI.

The expert committee conducted the survey from October last year, receiving responses from 41 entities out of 125 companies and research institutions with experience in AI technology or patent applications. The survey included data based on public information and interviews.

According to the poll, the use of AI is expanding in various fields, such as the development of new drugs and raw materials, the proposal of recipes for beverages, and architectural design plans. The survey found that 34% of the companies and research institutions that had filed patent applications for inventions were utilizing AI in the creative process.

For example, AI can predict combinations of materials and development methods that meet required characteristics from vast amounts of data, potentially increasing the speed and efficiency of development without the need for repeated experimentation.

However, many respondents, chiefly corporations, said the level of AI technology is “insufficient” at this point, and that human verification was necessary.

Regarding whether to recognize patent rights for inventions made autonomously by AI, 80% of respondents said it could pose problems. Concerns were also raised about an increase in inventions for which it had not been verified whether they could lead to actual products, as well as excessive patent applications causing delays in the review process.

In response to the survey results, the expert committee concluded there was no need to change the policies regarding patent examination at this point. However, it noted that “AI-related technologies are likely to develop rapidly. Hence, approriate safeguards will be considered as necessary.”

The patent office plans to advance research on the risks associated with patenting inventions made using based on the survey results.