In a UK first, the English High Court has overturned an earlier decision of the UK Patent Office (UKIPO) on the patentability of key aspects of AI technology, with immediate effect.
The change in law means that both the training of artificial neural networks (ANNs) and ANNs themselves are now patentable in the UK.
ANNs are essential to AI and machine learning, creating sentient-like user experiences through technology.
The initiative has been spearheaded by AI Venture Studio Time Machine Capital Squared (TMC2) and its subsidiary company Emotional Perception AI Ltd (EP AI).
EPAI originally filed its patent application in 2019 for a novel technique that permits the trained ANN to align its output closer towards how a human semantically perceives content.
The initial application was rejected as original legislation from the 1970s did not cater to modern-day computer-implemented inventions. However, the rapid development of AI globally has necessitated a revision of this law.
The company asserts that UKIPO had been slow to move away from entrenched ideas on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions “CIIs,” with innovations in computing representing a cornerstone of many 21st century tech companies.
TMC2 aims to become the largest AI Venture Studio outside of the US. Its portfolio of 12 AI companies holds over 100 national IP rights in the USA.
Advisor to TMC2 Professor Andy Pardoe stated:
“This change to the UK law, specifically for AI-based patents, is a major breakthrough for the UK AI industry and will dramatically help the UK with its ambitions to be a global leader in this field.
Differentiating between the technical complexities of the training of an ANN to that of just running an ANN in inference shows deep understanding of the technical separation of these two elements of AI development and implementation.
Changing the law to better allow AI-based patents to be approved is a fantastic step forward.”
The ruling has significant positive implications for the UK’s AI industry, making it more attractive to invest in innovative companies and R&D that will drive AI forward.
Pardoe believes this is particularly the case for the markets and banking sectors where new emotional perception is being developed for natural language processing (NLP) economic and financial crime detection and sentiment analysis.
Bruce Dearling, TMC2's patent attorney, stated:
“Closing the semantic gap is the Holy Grail in AI technology.
The impact of this decision and any related patent cannot be understated, not least because it clarifies how AI and CII inventions must be assessed. It further acknowledges the conceptual brilliance of the inventors, placing them clearly in the vanguard.
The decision should be welcomed by all, including the UK Patent Office.
It means that UKPLC is now very much open for business in AI, but also in other industrial sectors making use of computer implemented inventions. IPR protection is highly important to industry.”
Joe Lyske, co-founder of TMC2 and co-author of the patent said:
“We are really pleased with this ruling. What we have achieved here is not just acquiring another patent for TMC2, it’s a game-changer for the whole AI industry.
It also shows yet again, that the UK is a world leader in AI and we are proud to be recognised as such with this ruling.”
Lead image: Michael Dziedzic.