Let’s ask Artificial Intelligence: how good is your grammar?

“It appears to be like such as you’re writing a letter. Would you want assist?”
Some of you might learn these sentences and instantly keep in mind Clippy, Microsoft’s Office Assistant. Clippy would pop up when you have been typing in Microsoft Word and give you recommendation on how to enhance your writing. Clippy finally retired within the early 2000s, however since then, weblog writing, social media posts, and content material creation have grow to be extremely in style. Even within the office, most of us talk utilizing emails now fairly than telephone calls. This is the place Grammarly Inc. is available in.
In this text, we take a look at this AI-based enterprise, and supply recommendation on whether or not their AI know-how is patentable.
Grammarly’s know-how
Grammarly recognized a niche out there in 2009 and constructed a profitable firm primarily based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) know-how. Grammarly (which is additionally a registered trademark) is a cloud-based writing assistant that checks textual content written in English dialects. The writing assistant opinions spelling, grammar, punctuation, and readability in real-time, and can even examine whether or not your writing is partaking and strikes the suitable tone. The AI-powered writing assistant not solely identifies errors and different errors inside your writing, but in addition searches for an acceptable alternative for the errors and errors, and offers an in depth clarification of the error/error. Grammarly requires you to be linked to the web in an effort to work, as a result of the AI writing assistant checks your writing towards a database of errors and errors, in addition to knowledge collected from customers.
Grammarly at the moment has a multi-billion greenback valuation, however has a small patent portfolio. However, dimension actually isn’t the whole lot relating to a patent portfolio. Grammarly’s patent portfolio focuses on their key improvements, i.e. the core know-how that underpins their enterprise. This is essential, significantly for smaller firms and start-ups with restricted budgets: use your IP price range to make sure you shield the core know-how. Patents present start-ups with choices for income era (akin to licensing, or acquisition) and collaboration (extra negotiating energy). If you’d prefer to know extra about why patents could be helpful for start-ups and how to take advantage of a restricted price range, check out this text.
Grammarly’s patent portfolio
Grammarly was based in 2009, and their earliest patent utility dates again to 2010. It is nice to see that the corporate understood the significance of defending their know-how at an early stage. We clarify the significance of submitting patent functions sooner fairly than later on this article.
The firm’s patent portfolio additionally seems to cowl numerous iterations of their know-how. For instance, the earliest patent utility which has a precedence date of 2010 describes utilizing a computer-based grammar checking software and a human proofreader. This reliance on people to carry out a part of the duty is unsurprising, as different firms have been doing comparable issues at the moment. An instance is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which used people to carry out duties, akin to question response, that computer systems have been both unable to do or which people might do quicker.
However, it seems that Grammarly has moved away from partly counting on human intelligence, and their patent portfolio displays this transfer. This is essential and one thing innovating know-how companies ought to guarantee, as in any other case a patent portfolio won’t cowl what the enterprise is truly doing.
In 2020, Grammarly filed two patent functions that don’t point out utilizing people to carry out a part of the error identification and correction. One of those discloses a machine studying mannequin that may counsel synonyms to interchange a phrase in a textual content sequence that additionally suits within the context of the textual content sequence. The different describes a machine studying mannequin that has been skilled to analyse digital enter textual content sequences and produce digital output textual content sequences which are grammatically corrected and fluency-adjusted variations of the corresponding digital enter sequences, making an allowance for the consumer’s specific native language and proficiency stage.
Currently, plainly Grammarly has solely filed patent functions and obtained granted patents within the US. There could also be many explanation why they’ve focussed on the US. For instance, as the corporate is primarily based within the US and since the US is an enormous marketplace for this know-how, they could have determined to deal with the US. In one other instance, since Grammarly is cloud-based, if the servers they use to carry out the textual content evaluation are primarily based within the US, they could have filed patent functions within the US to cowl the jurisdiction during which their know-how is operating. Another cause could also be as a result of variations between what Patent Offices world wide contemplate patentable subject material.
Is Grammarly’s know-how patentable in Europe?
Generally talking, your likelihood of acquiring a software program patent within the US and Europe is very comparable. The US and European patent places of work (USPTO and EPO, respectively) have completely different evaluation approaches, however the finish end result is typically very comparable. We clarify the completely different approaches on this article.
Some examples of patentable AI innovations are specified within the EPO’s Guidelines for Examination: “For instance, using a neural community in a heart-monitoring equipment for the aim of figuring out irregular heartbeats makes a technical contribution. The classification of digital photographs, movies, audio or speech alerts primarily based on low-level options (e.g. edges or pixel attributes for photographs) are additional typical technical functions of classification algorithms.” It is essential to notice that the entire above-mentioned examples of software program/AI have “additional technical results” which transcend the “regular” bodily interactions between this system (software program) and the pc ({hardware}) on which it is run.
Clearly, the EPO typically considers AI-based innovations to be patentable, however what is the EPO’s view on AI innovations that relate to language processing? The EPO’s Guidelines specify that “Classifying textual content paperwork solely in respect of their textual content material is nonetheless not regarded to be per se a technical goal however a linguistic one (T 1358/09)”. This assertion means that pure language processing innovations will not be patentable on the EPO. Accordingly, this can be one of many causes that Grammarly has not pursued any European patents and primarily focuses on the US.
However, this doesn’t imply that getting patent safety for Grammarly could be not possible in Europe. Indeed, the variety of patent functions being filed for pure language processing on the EPO continues to develop.
Firstly, the patent utility might deal with a technical use of the pure language processing invention, fairly than only a linguistic one.
As an instance, granted European patent EP3230896B1 makes use of a linguistic-based mannequin to foretell a complexity rating of an enter textual content in a primary language, the place the complexity rating represents a problem to translate the enter textual content from the primary language right into a second language. This rating allows a consumer to switch the enter textual content to enhance the complexity rating. EP3378059B1 pertains to the same scoring methodology, which can be utilized to generate audio knowledge primarily based on the enter textual content. EP2387031B1 describes analysing statements to find out how complicated they might be in the event that they have been spoken and processed by a speech recognition system. It could be seen that in all these instances, the textual content processing is used for a technical goal (machine translation, or textual content to speech conversion).
Another technical use of textual content processing is drug discovery – see our earlier article about patenting such methods.
Secondly, the patent utility might deal with a wider system which incorporates technical options in addition to the pure language processing.
For occasion, EP3583747B1 describes an clever digital assistant system that includes a microphone and a speaker. The system receives audio enter, recognises speech of a number of customers, and processes the speech to find out what the customers are saying and to supply an acceptable response. Speech evaluation is thought of to be patentable by the EPO, even when the evaluation makes use of linguistic fashions. It could also be that speech processing utilizing grammar fashions turns into extra prevalent within the near-future as we more and more use our voices to manage our units or to acquire data, and as we talk verbally with colleagues, family and friends in numerous languages.
Thirdly, even when the invention is purely linguistic, it may be advantageous to make use of a European patent legal professional to arrange your patent utility and help you with the submitting and prosecution in different international locations. At Appleyard Lees, we’re very acquainted with the patentability necessities and prosecution course of in different key jurisdictions, such because the US, China and Japan, and we will put together patent functions which are appropriate for different jurisdictions. Numerous our attorneys are additionally members of organisations that advise on patent insurance policies, together with insurance policies round rising know-how areas akin to AI.
Similarly, it could be price first-filing your textual content processing patent utility on the EPO. This is as a result of it is doable to acquire a fast search and written opinion from the EPO, inside round 4 months of submitting, which could be helpful to find out your subsequent patent submitting technique and to establish probably related prior artwork. Similarly, utilizing the EPO because the International Searching Authority when submitting a PCT utility could also be helpful, as outlined right here.

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