The move highlights an area that many legal tech companies focus on, but which is rarely reported upon – namely bagging patents for novel or unique technology.
Patents clearly add value to a company, and help reassure investors that you’ve made something original. But, they also raise some interesting questions about market consolidation and future competition between the big legal tech brands.
More broadly, and beyond what Specifio is doing, we have not yet seen any legal tech companies (….that AL has seen so far…) battling over similar or overlapping patents, for example in relation to legal AI doc review applications. That said, many legal tech companies (see story) are heavily backed with patents for their homemade software – even though it’s clear many companies in key market segments are providing very similar solutions.
Artificial Lawyer has been following the company’s progress since mid-2017, when the Los Angeles start-up set out on a path to use machine leaning technology and Natural Language Generation (NLG) techniques to automatically create patent documents for filing with the USPTO.
Now, in a suitably circular way, the company has won a patent for its NLG technology that supports patent filing. Interestingly, the company said the patent itself was auto-generated using Specifio’s tech, making it ‘autobiographical‘.
Specifio’s newly issued patent is U.S. Pat. No. 10,417,341 and is entitled ‘Systems and Methods for Using Machine Learning and Rules-Based Algorithms to Create a Patent Specification Based on Human-Provided Patent Claims Such That the Patent Specification Is Created Without Human Intervention’.
Ian Schick, Specifio’s Co-Founder and CEO, said: ‘This patent makes claims in connection with our technology that allows a few attorney-written pages about an invention, i.e., the claims, to be converted into a first-draft patent application. This is the first patent to issue of our over thirty patent applications filed in the US and abroad, which further confirms Specifio’s leadership in developing patent document automation technologies.’
Kevin Knight, Specifio’s Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, added: ‘The patent being issued is great validation of the originality of our technical approach to creating this productivity enhancing tool for patent attorneys.’
Specifio’s new patent covers aspects of the core technology in the company’s fully-automated service for generating first-draft patent application documents. To achieve this, the patent describes using a technical solution for automatically converting ‘patentese’ into auto-generated prose. The patent describes patentese as language having ‘text structure and legal jargon commonly used in patent claims’. The prose, once generated, along with other content, is then used to automatically construct the draft patent application document.
The company was also a member of the previous Lexis Nexis Accelerator programme in California.
You can see the full patent here if you’d like to have a look at its details.