I’m working on an AI project that may well be commercially viable.

Does anybody know about filing for a patent for an AI program? How much information about the software model would I be required to submit, for example? I’ve already had a look through the ‘filing for a patent’ information and I’m in the UK if it makes any difference.

Grateful for any thoughts.

Also, I’ve asked this on the stack AI form and they referred me here.


  • Is there something novel about the algorithm or it a known AI algorithm as applied to a new field? Typically, programs themselves are protected by copyright.
    – Eric S
    Feb 18, 2021 at 2:29
  • Your question indicates that you need to do some level of self-study of what a patent is. I would suggest (even though it is USA law) reading NOLO's book entitled Patent It Yourself which is a tutorial on each portion of the entire topics of applying for a patent. Mar 16 at 19:10

2 Answers 2


This is hard to answer since you don't specify if there is anything new or novel about the AI program. In the US, I believe you can obtain patents on the application of algorithms to solving tangible problems. This may not be true in other countries.

Typically one would not patent a computer program. The program would be protected by copyright. However if there is an underlying algorithm involved then the algorithm itself as applied to solving a specific problem might be patentable. However applying a well known technique such as neural networks to an application well suited to being solved by neural networks probably wouldn't be considered novel.

As for what you would need to submit, it is a requirement in all patents to "enable" an invention. This means you need to describe it sufficiently so that someone skilled in the field can implement it. As for where you live, it doesn't matter. What matters is where you want to protect the invention. Patents are territorial. You need a separate patent for each country. As I said, a software algorithm may not be patentable in all countries.

Unlike copyrights and trademarks, patents are complicated and can be expensive and time consuming to obtain. With software especially the use of a qualified patent attorney is highly recommended. Crafting a patent that is actually protective is difficult. If the software is a web service it well may be preferable to keep the inner workings of the AI program a secret.


What society gets out of your patent application: In general the inventor must disclose a process or an apparatus in sufficient detail as to teach everyone who is skilled in the art of your specialized discipline how to replicate your invention in their own work 20 years from now (i.e., 20 years after the date of application, which is when your patent is likely to expire. If your patent does not disclose sufficient detail for someone skilled in the art to replicate your invention, then you have not described it in the description in sufficient detail. The description is effectively a tutorial; as such, its content is more free-form and less structured (than the claims, see below) to allow you freedom & latitude to teach what you need to teach.

What you get out of your patent application: In general, in exchange for you giving up this invention as a trade secret forever and allowing competitors 20 years from now to copy your invention freely, you get a monopoly on a process or apparatus that you carve out by stating its metes-&-bounds perimeter conception in what are called claims. This is analogous to claiming the right of ownership of land by declaring the location of the perimeter of land. Using the proper wording and the proper conceptual boundary-making to assure that you don't claim too much (i.e., someone else's invention; someone else's or society's public-domain content) and to assure that you don't claim too little (i.e., insufficiently protecting the key portions of your invention) is crucial for the rather-structured claims.

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