Enriching Life Through Innovative Ideas SM

Can AI improve process at the U.S. patent office?

Pity the patent examiner. Millions of patent applications flood the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) each year and it is the task of the patent examiner to see if the application has previously been applied for and whether it adds to the total of human knowledge.

This is a tough duty, but as with many difficult jobs in the past 150 years, officials are looking to machines to help shoulder the burden.

Specifically, the USPTO is looking to add artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to aid the patent process.

Too large for any human

When you apply for a patent, a patent examiner looks for “prior art,” or any information that exists to support the patent’s claim that it is novel and a non-obvious new entry into the world.

It’s a job too large for any human being. That’s why the USPTO is looking to advance toward AI. In a speech in mid-November, USPTO director Andrei Iancu said the office has developed a new program that uses AI to conduct a “federated search” across all patents, publications, non-patent literature and images. This gives the patent examiner a volume of data that, while still large, is at least manageable.

The USPTO is also looking at quantum computing, machine learning, and natural language processing that doesn’t necessarily require a full IT retrofit. The office is also looking for widgets or plugins that can augment current search capabilities.

Language of the inventor

One specific problem that can be targeted by AI is the ever-changing language of the inventor. Not only do inventors develop new programs and gadgets, but they develop new ways to describe those programs and gadgets.

When working with new words, keyword searches become useless. The USPTO hopes AI can keep patent examiners on top of new lexicon while maintaining speed and integrity.

Director Iancu said one possibility is mining synonyms with the help of crowd-sourcing. He said this could promote consistent searches and bring any prior art that exists in disparate databases.

The path to patent approval can be lengthy and complex. When dealing with patent law, it’s imperative that you hire knowledgeable legal counsel to protect your interests.

FindLaw Network

What Our Clients Say

Starting a new business can be a bit scary. Aside from worries of failure, there’s also the hassle of making sure all legal paperwork are properly filed. I reached out to Mr. Wang (Tommy) because of his excellent reviews and reputation and I am so glad I did. He was thorough and meticulous in answering all of my concerns and took time to find out special laws and policies regarding the kind of business I am starting. I could focus on the daily practical side of starting my new office without worry because I felt Tommy was reliable and took my case seriously. My business is opened and it’s all been a smooth start because of Tommy’s help. I have plans to start another business venture in the next few years and I already know I’ll be coming back to Wang IP Law.

The Shindig W.

I came to Tommy for help reviewing a licensing agreement I had secured with a well-known manufacturer. Tommy made sure I understood all the details in the contract and he negotiated with the company to improve my side of the deal. I mentioned to Tommy at my first consultation that we were looking to expand throughout the US and were investing a lot of money to make a big entrance into the market. I did not think I would have my store open so soon but Tommy also has connections with the local area and realtors to help me secure the location for my first store in the Los Angeles area. Tommy works a lot with the local businesses and he understands how to transition from the Asian market to US market. Within 8 months my store was open for business and fully operating. I must recommend Tommy to any business owners looking for help with contracts and improving their side of the deal. Tommy has the knowledge and experience to make sure there is a smooth process to open for business here, and make sure that your company is set up for success.


I think Tommy and his team by far considered the best people to work with in my 16 business years. Beside quick responses to all my inquiries, they also done things right and providing very professional solutions. I’m highly recommending Tommy and his firm to all business owners.

Calvin C.

I have been working on my Utility Patent for almost 4 years. I have hired and fired two very reputable IP firms because with all their expertise and reputation for being some of the top firms in IP Law, I felt a lack of connection and care in my product, time and financial investment. Then I found Tommy and his team. Tommy does not waste time. He and his team are professional and extremely thorough. After 4 years, I finally found a legal team that I felt spent the time to really understand the components of my utility patent. Tommy also very mindful of cost and how and where my money would be better spent. I really feel I am in great hands with Tommy and his team. They have been patient with my revisions. And most importantly, they made me feel that they fully understood the importance this patent is to me. It has been a great and comforting pleasure working with Tommy.


Read All