The patent system is experiencing the transformative impact of artificial intelligence (AI).


In this file photo taken on June 7, 2023, visitors are seen standing close to an artificial intelligence (AI) sign at a booth showcasing AI robots during the Security China exhibition in Beijing, China. The exhibition focuses on public safety and security.

Since John McCarthy coined the term "artificial intelligence" (AI) in 1956, the field has witnessed periods of hype where the potential of AI surpassed its actual capabilities. However, in recent years, there has been a notable shift as AI, particularly exemplified by OpenAI's ChatGPT, has begun delivering practical results with new products and services that are rapidly adopted across various industries.

While much attention has focused on large language models' ability to provide natural language responses, AI is also revolutionizing the invention process in fields like pharmaceuticals, robotics, and autonomous vehicles. These AI-driven innovations have significant implications for the patent system.

One notable application of AI is streamlining the traditionally arduous and resource-intensive process of drug discovery. For instance, Dave Johnson, Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Officer at Moderna, highlighted in a 2021 interview the role of robotic automation, process automation, and AI algorithms in the development of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. These technologies allowed the company to scale up mRNA production significantly, from around 30 mRNAs per month to approximately a thousand, while maintaining quality and without requiring a substantial increase in resources.

The integration of AI in such groundbreaking developments underscores the potential impact on the patent system. As AI-driven inventions continue to advance, the patent landscape will need to adapt to accommodate the unique challenges and opportunities presented by these technological advancements.