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Patent Office Introduces AI Capability for Search

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) introduced new artificial intelligence (AI) capability for examiner searching. The bulletin regarding this announcement can be found here.  In the bulletin, it is explained that the AI system can be used by examiners to assist in conducting searches for prior art during the examination process of the patent application. This process is generally referred to as patent prosecution.

The AI based tool will allow examiners to use selected application information such as, for example, the specification of an application, as an input and use the trained AI modules to produce a list of domestic and foreign patent documents that are similar to the patent application being searched. However, the bulletin is careful to note that the examiner will not be limited by the AI search tool. Instead, the examiner will be able to use the AI search tool to supplement their typical search, or to supplement an AI search with manual searching.

What does this mean for patent practitioners and inventors? Typical lawyer answer inbound – we are not really sure yet. It is my hope that the introduction of AI search capabilities will result in faster turnarounds during the patent application process. When I checked the patent dashboard today, the current pendency for a patent application to receive a first look by an examiner (referred to as a first Office action) is 18.5 months. It is also my hope that the use of AI search capabilities will provide more accurate and detailed searches so that patents can better withstand invalidity attacks after they are issued.

We will have a better idea of how the use of AI search capabilities will affect the patent application process as time goes on, and we will be sure to bring you updates as we receive them. If you need any assistance with your patent needs, please do not hesitate to contact me, or any of the patent attorneys at Widerman Malek.