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22 September 2022

Enhanced Guidance from the UK IPO on Patentability of AI inventions

The UK IPO has today released detailed guidance on the examination of patent applications relating to artificial intelligence.

The guidance confirms that in the UK, patents are available for AI inventions in all fields of technology. In particular, when the task or process performed by an AI invention reveals a technical contribution to the known art, the AI invention is not excluded from patentability and is patent-eligible under the UK IPO approach. The guidance states that an AI invention is likely to make a technical contribution if, when it runs on a computer, its instructions:

  • embody a technical process which exists outside the computer; or
  • contribute to the solution of a technical problem lying outside the computer; or
  • solve a technical problem lying within the computer itself; or
  • define a new way of operating the computer in a technical sense

On the other hand, the guidance indicates that an AI invention is unlikely to make a technical contribution (and would therefore likely be excluded) if its task or process:

  • relates solely to items listed as being excluded (e.g. a business method) and there is no more to it; or
  • relates solely to processing or manipulating information or data and there is no more to it; or
  • has the effect of just being a better or well-written program for a conventional computer and there is no more to it

The guidance is accompanied by a helpful set of “scenarios”; these provide a number of useful illustrations of the UK IPO approach to examination across a range of applied AI and core AI areas, including examples of inventions which are not considered excluded by the UK IPO as well as examples which are considered excluded.

We welcome the increased transparency that the new guidance brings when handling UK applications in the AI space.

The guidance and scenarios can be found here.

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