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UK Government Report Finds Patents Essential to Investors in AI

The UK IPO recently commissioned a study looking at Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the UK and the factors influencing investment into the sector. The report noted that the UK is one of the best locations for any AI related start-ups, with London and Cambridge in particular being cited as AI hubs by international companies. The study found that the UK was third in the world for private investment in AI, behind only the US and China.

A key finding of the study was the importance of patents to investors, with a patent portfolio often being required when considering investment. In comparison, other IP rights such as copyright and trade secrets were found to be less important to investors. The study found that patents were viewed as a third party guarantee of the novelty and inventiveness of the companies idea, giving the investor confidence that the invention was more likely to be profitable in the future. A patent can also be sold or licensed, offering investors extra security on their investment.

The report found that many SMEs viewed copyright as being the best option for protecting their products. As companies grew in size however, they begin to rely on different areas of the UK IP framework, viewing patents as being vital to defensive protection of their ideas.

Many of the small and medium sized enterprises interviewed for the study were found to lack a detailed understanding of the various methods of IP protection available to them. In particular, many were under the misconception that core AI software is not patentable. As pointed out in the report, this is not the case, and as long as certain requirements such as providing a technical contribution are satisfied, an AI related invention is eligible for patent protection in the UK (as well as in Europe). For more information regarding the patentability of computer-implemented inventions, please see our briefing.

If you require any advice on the subject of patentability and inventions relating to AI, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.