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Latest updates on artificial intelligence and intellectual property

Blog by
Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director
of the USPTO

September 27, 2023, Commissioner for Patents Vaishali Udupa spoke at the
USPTO’s fourth AI/ET Partnership meeting about the USPTO’s critical role in
advancing emerging technologies and artificial intelligence (Photo by Jay

it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), there is enormous potential for our
country and for solving world problems — but there are significant risks as
well. To shape the future of AI, we must act quickly but also thoughtfully and
with your input.

taking office, President Biden and the entire the Biden-Harris Administration
have moved with urgency to seize the tremendous promise and manage the risks
posed by AI.  The Biden-Harris
Administration is currently developing an executive order that will ensure the
federal government is doing everything in its power to advance safe, secure and
trustworthy AI, and manage its risks to individuals and society. Our
Administration will also pursue bipartisan legislation to help America lead the
way in responsible innovation. As we advance this agenda at home, the Administration
will continue working with allies and partners to establish a strong
international framework to govern the development and use of AI worldwide.

USPTO, and our sister agencies within the Department of Commerce, as well as
the U.S. Copyright Office, play a critical role in this work.  One of the USPTO’s top priorities is
to ensure that the United States maintains its leadership in innovation,
especially in emerging technologies (ET) such as AI.
Our AI efforts align closely with the
Administration’s whole-of-government approach to AI, including the 
National AI Initiative
that seeks to advance U.S. leadership in AI.
That is why,
under my leadership, the USPTO created the
AI/ET Partnership. Over the last
year, the USPTO’s
AI/ET Partnership has worked closely with the AI/ET community to
gather public feedback through a series of meetings on topics related to AI and
innovation, biotech, and intellectual property (IP) policy.

In collaboration with you, we have been working to swiftly,
but also responsibly, incorporate AI into our work so that we can better serve
the American public and increase the robustness and reliability of IP rights. We
are integrating AI
technologies into our next-generation
tools to enhance the quality and efficiency of patent and trademark
examination. Our examiners have conducted over 1.3 million searches using AI
search tools. These tools also find potential foreign prior art relevant to
their examination of a patent application by searching patent documents from over
60 different countries. We are assessing approaches for making these AI search
tools publicly available. We are also working to extend search to images for
design patents. And, our Trademarks organization is also looking to develop AI
capabilities in image searching, classification, and identification of goods
which will better assist our more than 750 trademark examining attorneys
examining applications for trademark registrations.

We also have several user-facing AI
initiatives in development and public beta, to help the public better navigate
the patent and trademark systems. The USPTO Virtual Assistant enhances customer
service by providing immediate, targeted answers to common questions. While
currently available on several Trademark pages; we will be adding the tool to
more USPTO pages soon. Our Inventor Search Assistant tool
allows you to search for your own prior art to help determine if your invention
is patentable (Learn more in this Inventors Digest article). Last year, we held an AI research competition where over
2,300 competitors from over 80 countries created AI models for a patent
phrase-to-phrase matching challenge. We offer an AI Patent Dataset that – using a
machine-learning (ML) approach that analyzed patent text and citations in
patent applications and other documents – identifies patents issued from
1976-2020 with one or more AI technology components, including ML, natural
language processing, computer vision, speech, and more. 

On April
25, 2023, the USPTO held one of several public listening sessions on AI and
inventorship (Photo by Michel Cleveland/USPTO)

Our AI/ET Partnership Meeting on September 27 this week explored the many ways that AI is shaping the
work of both the USPTO and those who practice before us, along with the role of
USPTO data in advancing state-of-the-art AI research and AI throughout the
innovation economy. Attendees heard from a distinguished and diverse lineup of
AI researchers, IP practitioners, USPTO technologists, and interagency
And our economists demonstrated some of
our AI data and research initiatives.

Given the
rapid adoption of AI, we are moving swiftly and carefully – including on patent
examiner training. In our report, “Inventing AI: Tracing the
diffusion of artificial intelligence with U.S. patents
,” we found that AI is increasingly
important for invention, diffusing broadly across technologies, inventors,
organizations, and geography. For example, recently updated data from our
report indicates that around 80,000 of our utility patent applications in 2020
involved artificial intelligence – over 150% higher than in 2002. AI now
appears in more than 18% of all utility patent applications we receive. Illustrating
AI’s rapid diffusion across fields, patents containing AI appeared in about 9% of all
technologies examined by the USPTO in 1976, and spread to more than 50% by
2020. And, this data precedes what we have all seen in the past six

For many years, we have offered AI related training through our Patent
Examiner Technical Training Program
(PETTP) and
Site Experience Education Program. In fiscal year 2023, through PETTP, we held over 200 AI
training courses, which were viewed over
8,000 times by
our examiners.
These programs keep patent examiners up to date on the
latest technological developments, emerging trends, and recent innovations,
including in AI. Examiners hear from and engage directly with scientists,
engineers, and other experts from universities and innovative organizations, to
learn the latest on the various technologies examined throughout the USPTO. Additionally,
through a new partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, we are rolling out a
21-course curriculum over the next few months on AI for patent examiners tailored
to their own needs. And we will soon launch a new Premier Lecture Series, bringing
AI experts to share their insights with USPTO personnel to help strengthen our
examination process. If you have expertise in AI, reach out to us at

As for our other critical work, we are working to assess how
our stakeholders’ use of AI impacts the work we do and, after
hearing from you on inventorship, we are working
to provide clarity on inventorship for AI-assisted inventions
, to
be followed by working with you
on obviousness and other key areas of IP law that need attention in
view of AI.

As we work
on our own AI efforts and outreach, we coordinate closely with other agencies
on their efforts, such as
the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO), who recently issued at notice of inquiry (NOI) on
copyright and AI. As the Administration’s IP advisor and
close partner with the USCO, the USPTO is looking forward to working with the USCO
on these important issues as they gather public input and feedback related to
AI and copyright. Initial written comments are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern
Time on October 30, 2023. Reply comments are due by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on
November 29, 2023
. Your feedback to
the NOI is critical. We will use your feedback and the USCO’s findings to advise
the Administration on policy around copyright and AI.

In addition, the National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST) recently published a request for information seeking
public input on how best to implement the U.S. Government National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging
. And, we published a parallel request for comment alongside NIST and
the International Trade Administration (ITA) focusing on the intersection of
those standards and IP. From AI to quantum technologies, NIST, ITA and the
USPTO have been collaborating very closely at the intersection of standards,
innovation and IP. The response dates for both requests is November 6, 2023.

Stay tuned as there is more on AI to come! For any questions or feedback on our AI efforts, or to suggest a topic for a future meeting, please contact