Journal of Intellectual Property Law


The transformation of the inventive process through the application of Artificial Intelligence, or “AI”, technology has radically enhanced the way pharmaceutical companies research and develop new drugs. While AI technology has led to improved accessibility to essential drugs and significant reductions in the time and cost required for drug research and development, it has also left the pharmaceutical industry with the puzzling question regarding how to encourage innovation with AI technology if AI machines cannot obtain patent protection under the current United States patent system. Granting patent protection ensures inventors can profit off their inventions, since patented inventions cannot be freely copied. Because the research and development process for pharmaceuticals requires companies to invest billions of dollars over long periods of time, pharmaceutical companies are not likely to continue to innovate with AI technology if they cannot recoup research and development costs and exclude others from using their inventions through patent protection. Therefore, the intellectual property rights granted through patent protection serve as an essential tool in the pharmaceutical industry to effectively incentivize innovation.

Because the United States lacks comprehensive laws and policies regarding AI technology and patent eligibility under the current patent system, this Note focuses on the rising demand for patent law reforms, which include AI-created machines as inventors under the United States patent doctrine. Through an analysis of the benefits AI provides for drug researchers, manufacturers and consumers, this Note discusses the critical demand for patent protection in the pharmaceutical industry. Finally, this Note concludes with a forward-looking discussion regarding various reforms and solutions that Congress should consider ensuring that United States patent law will sufficiently protect and encompass inventions created by AI in the pharmaceutical industry.