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USPTO says existing rules apply to AI-crafted submissions

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reaffirmed its existing regulations will apply to AI-assisted applications and filings.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is issuing a notice Thursday that is aimed at helping guide professionals within patent and trademarking fields on how to safely leverage artificial intelligence systems.

The guidance, slated to be published in the Federal Register on April 11, notes that existing rules and regulations that apply to the entrepreneurs, legal professionals, and other stakeholders working with the USPTO who incorporate AI into their work. Some of the scenarios where existing law applies include using AI software for document drafting, AI tools usage disclosure duties, and properly filing or submitting documents to the USPTO.

“Given the uncertainties faced by practitioners in the use of AI tools, the USPTO publishes this guidance to remind practitioners about existing rules and policies that may be relevant to the use of these tools, and to help educate practitioners on possible risks presented by the use of these tools so that practitioners can mitigate these risks,” the guidance reads.

Provisions included in the guidance were crafted based on stakeholder engagement from USPTO’s AI and Emerging Technologies Partnership, along with a review of existing rules. It also reviews the noted risks involved in utilizing AI systems, like cybersecurity and data privacy.

Violations of existing USPTO rules through the improper use of AI systems could result in several outcomes, including revocation of a given user's account, along with other appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative penalties or liabilities. 

"Today’s notice is part of our work shaping AI policy, and encourages the safe and responsible use of AI to benefit the IP and innovation ecosystem,” Kathi Vidal, the USPTO’s under secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property said in a press release. “The requirements in existing USPTO rules serve to protect the integrity of our proceedings and to avoid delay and unnecessary cost, and they apply regardless of how a submission is generated.”

The notice follows the USPTO’s February guidance on AI-assisted innovations submitted for patents, required under President Joe Biden’s 2023 Executive Order on AI. The USPTO said that it is currently working with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other federal agencies to help guide policy related to AI and intellectual property.