Despite advocating for openness, technology leaders have been patenting artificial intelligence inventions at an exponentially increasing rate. Patents on foundational techniques with broad applications have the potential the deter innovation in the field, should the privatization of the building blocks of artificial intelligence be used to exclude third parties innovators. This paper studies patent applications in the United States and demonstrates the extent to which the field grew over the last twenty years. It then seeks to explore foundational patents by focusing on triadic patents; patents filed jointly with the United States Patent and Trade Office, the European Patent Office, and the Japanese Patent Office. The results of this paper indicate an increasingly globalized AI field. A proverbial land grab seems to be occurring; an increase in AI patenting, particularly the protection of triadic patents, illustrate industry players aggressively attempting to own the building blocks of a rapidly emerging market. A number of policy levers is presented, highlighting how the patent offices and courts can counter the patenting of foundational patents by relying on strict and narrow patentability standards.
Raphael Zingg is a Visiting Professor at Singapore Management University. He conducts research and teaches on intellectual property and patent law, with a particular focus on the life sciences. His scholarly fields of interest include the empirical study of the patent system, biotechnology and nanotechnology laws, and the protection of cultural heritage. He an Assistant Professor at Waseda University, Institute for Advanced Study, Tokyo, and a Research Affiliate at the ETH Zurich, Center for Law & Economics. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich, and at the University of Hong Kong, Law and Technology Centre.
Kung-Chung LIU holds an LL.B. and LL.M. from National Taiwan University and a Doctorate from the Ludwig Maximilian Universitaet (University of Munich). He was a Research Fellow at Academia Sinica, Taiwan until 2017. In 2003, he was a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore and a Visiting Senior Research Fellow for the IP Academy of Singapore. Professor Liu has served as one of the founding Commissioners of the National Communications Commission in Taiwan between 2006 and 2007. In 2014-15, he was a Visiting Professor at the School of Law, Singapore Management University, and the Founding Director of the Applied Research Centre for Intellectual Assets and the Law in Asia (ARCIALA). In addition, he has been co-appointed Professor at the Renmin University, China (2017), and the Graduate Institute of Technology, Innovation & Intellectual Property Management, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (since 2010).
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Last updated on 12 Apr 2019 .