Most of us know that DATA, the beloved android from Star Trek, The Next Generation, is an artificial intelligence (AI) life form from the distant future with a high capacity to problem solve and innovate. But, if DATA were present today and invented a new technology, could he be an inventor on a patent for his invention?

The question of whether AI can legally be an inventor on a patent was recently addressed by the European Patent Office (EPO) and The United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO). The same question is still being evaluated by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) along with solicitation for comments to the patent community.
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Design patents can play an important role in protecting a tech startup’s innovations and creating competitive advantage, whether they are the only available protection or part of a larger patent strategy. Often overlooked and sometimes undervalued, design patents are typically easier and less costly to obtain than utility patents. While generally having a more limited scope of protection, design patents can still deter potential infringers in the U.S. and foreign countries.

As of May 13, 2015, U.S. emerging tech companies have a new option for design protection in foreign countries. The U.S. joined the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs on May 13, 2015, and U.S. design patent applicants can now take advantage of the Hague System to obtain protection for their inventive designs in foreign countries.


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Idea TreeConsider Provisional Patent Filings

Filing a provisional patent application in the U.S. is often a useful strategy for start-up tech companies. A provisional patent application allows a company to preserve an earlier filing date at a minimal expense and delays a much more significant expenditure associated with a non-provisional application by one year. By the anniversary of the provisional application filing, a non-provisional application must be filed in order to take benefit of the provisional filing date. A provisional application is especially useful if it provides a detailed description of the invention and preferably explains valuable alternative implementations. Otherwise any new subject matter added to the non-provisional application will not be given the benefit of the provisional application filing date.

Options for Non-Provisional Patent Filings

With the enactment of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011, there are now multiple opportunities to speed up the patenting process for which companies, such as those focusing on nanotechnology related inventions, can take advantage when filing a non-provisional. The two main options are (1) prioritized examination and (2) accelerated examination.


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