On 1 November 2018, amended Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office (EPO) entered into force. In these amended guidelines, there is a new section (G-II 3.3.1) which provides guidance on the evaluation of whether an invention related to of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has the necessary technical character in order for it to be patentable. The technical character requirement is in addition to the patentability requirements of novelty, inventive step and industrial application.
The guidelines provide the following examples of AI and machine learning methods which have the necessary technical character:
- The use of a neural network in a heart monitoring apparatus for the purpose of identifying irregular heartbeats.
- The classification of digital images, videos, audio or speech signals based on low-level features (e.g. edges or pixel attributes for images).
With this, the EPO has tried to more precisely define the patentability criteria related to artificial intelligence and machine learning.