Brion Raffoul’s Patent Spotlight Part 1: Artificial Intelligence

By Tina Dekker, Art Brion, Dennis Haszko

Welcome to Part 1 of Brion Raffoul’s Patent Spotlight! In this series, we will highlight new and interesting patents from various fields as inspiration to businesses and innovators. A patent’s value to a business is not always evident and can be often misunderstood. By sharing recent patent stories across different fields, we hope to encourage businesses to consider patents in their IP strategy. This week’s topic is artificial intelligence (AI).

How many smart devices do you own and from which companies? Interoperability in smart homes is growing in demand as the Internet of Things (IoT) permeates our living environments. Likewise, the associated privacy concerns have also grown. Bank of America recently patented a communications system (U.S. Patent No 10,645,108) that uses machine learning to create a web of trust between otherwise incompatible smart devices and to prevent private data from being communicated outside a trusted network. The IoT offers a vast landscape of potential problems and corresponding solutions due to the ubiquity of smart devices, and such solutions can often deserve a patent. What problem does your business or idea solve that could benefit from patent protection?

Patents can acquire high value suddenly and unexpectedly. For example, a patent (U.S. Patent No 10,565,395) was recently granted that applies machine learning for privacy protection in video captured by moving cameras such as body cameras, drone cameras, vehicle cameras, and the like. The algorithm classifies video regions that contain identity elements (e.g., a human) and replaces these with alternative images that protect a person’s or an object’s identity. Given the resurgence of discussions regarding mandates for police body cameras, this type of patent may acquire newfound value in the months and years to come.

The AI Patent Landscape

These are just two simple examples of AI-related patents that were granted in the US this year. For a more comprehensive outlook on the AI patent landscape up to 2019, see the World Intellectual Property Organization’s report on recent AI patenting trends.

Canadian innovators take note: Canada’s contribution to its own AI patent landscape is notably modest, despite the country’s recognized academic leadership in AI. If Canada hopes to stay in the global AI race, holding onto the country’s home-bred IP is critical.

A patent doesn’t have to be revolutionary. If you are developing or using AI in a unique or commercially significant way, consider investing in patent protection—you never know, your solution could be in high demand in the near future. If you are a startup and thinking that this doesn’t apply to you, think again: every startup needs an IP strategy.

Stay tuned for Brion Raffoul’s Patent Spotlight Series Part 2: Amazon.