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| 1 minute read

Are IP myths holding back UK AI SMEs?

There is a huge amount of fascinating data in this UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) study on the factors influencing investment in Artificial Intelligence.  A number of things stood out to me.

While the UK is number three in the world for private investment in AI, UK-based applicants only rank sixth in terms of patent activity.  There seems to be a clear link between a lack of IP awareness among UK companies and UK PLCs relative weakness in scaling growth beyond the start-up stage.  Indeed, participants in the study noted a propensity for investors to require patents to support an investment round. Unfortunately, a majority of micro and SME companies interviewed for the report believed that it was not possible to patent their most valuable assets - AI related software.  

I'm sure that this rings true with many colleagues who work every day to dispel this particular myth.  And a myth it is - as the UKIPO themselves note, they grant many thousands of patents for computer and software implemented inventions.  As our AI Report 2022 shows, the same is true of the European Patent Office, where the growth in AI patent applications in the last 20 years has been nothing short of phenomenal across all technologies and industry sectors.

Finally, the report concludes that bringing together combined patent and copyright expertise to focus on the AI sector would be particularly helpful for early-stage companies.  This is an area in which Marks & Clerk excels, with our unrivalled team of patent attorneys, trade mark attorneys and solicitors working closely together to help our clients realise the full potential of their most valuable assets.

The majority of micro and SME companies interviewed perceived that they could not get patents for their software developments. Technology sector participants had a generally perceived misconception that ‘core AI software is not patentable’.


artificial intelligence