What all you should know about patenting AI in the health sector

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Decades ago, we didn’t know of a world where machines could play chess or recognize handwriting. And a few years ago, we didn’t know about a machine operating on a patient while the doctor watches from afar. We’ve come a long way from the days when machines didn’t exist to now, machines playing doctor. Artificial Intelligence is a growing field. AI is slowly making its way into everyone’s homes and the healthcare sector.

In India, the laws that govern the patenting of Artificial Intelligence is the same as the laws laid down for Computer Related Inventions. These laws revolve around algorithms, software, and computer-based inventions.

Currently in India, patenting of software alone isn’t allowed. The software needs to be supported by hardware or a working method or process that makes use of the software needs to be demonstrated.

For this reason, it’s recommended that before deciding to patent your AI invention, you are ready with a description of the hardware. The AI algorithms that are going to be present in the patent must also be fully described.

It’ll also help if the method or process of a device is demonstrated. This device must make use of your AI software. It’s advisable to focus more on the application and hardware aspects of the AI rather than focusing too much on the code or the algorithms.

AI is perceived as something that offers everyday machines that little edge of creativity and the ability to adapt and ‘think’ while working. It’s due to this perception of AI that simple AI logic applied to a problem cannot be patented. This is why a process or a hardware demonstration is required for patenting AI.

Despite all this, India still comes in the top ten countries worldwide to file AI patents.

Further, for patenting AI in healthcare, it must either be diagnostic, therapeutic of pharmaceutical. There are guidelines issued that clearly define the rules that an invention must follow to be categorized.

Hence, the patent for AI in healthcare must satisfy this criterion as well as the other criteria mentioned above. This needs to be backed up by perfect documentation. 

AI is still a vague subject when it comes to patenting. While AI is a software, AI itself can come up with new inventions and ideas that can be patented. No clear law exists when it comes to handling such cases.

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