Can ML applied on an existing idea be patented?

Lets say there is a prior art patent P whose claims C cover the methodology steps S. Now the P did not claim any ML (machine learning) approach in their methodology steps S. I come across a new idea where I see applying machine learning in steps S can increase the usability and accuracy significantly of the solution. Now, If I want to patent with a new claim C' which is composed of existing steps S + machine learning on S. Can my new claim C' be patented?

  • I guess the national law plays a major role, here. Which country are you relating to?
    – Ben
    Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 8:02
  • 1
    @Ben for the US Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 12:12

1 Answer 1


I am not a lawyer but here is my take. If someone has a patent with a claim covering steps A, B and C and you file a patent application for using steps A, B and C plus machine learning (ML), you might be able to get a patent on the combination. However you still would probably need to take a license from the original patent holder since you are infringing on their patent.

Now it is no guarantee you would even get a patent since it needs to be non-obvious to someone skilled in the art to add the ML step. The use of ML is very common now to optimize processes so there might need to be some aspect which makes its application surprising in this context. This is tricky and likely specific to the actual application. Also, the ability to obtain patents utilizing algorithms may vary based on country. As always I suggest consulting with a patent attorney or agent to get an informed opinion.

  • Thanks for your opinion Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 15:12
  • 2
    @sazzadhissainkhan if the ML step replaced a claimed step then no permission would be needed from the first patent owner.
    – George White
    Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 15:51

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