Pondering the Future of Generative AI and Patent Law

By: Brent Nix
November 16, 2023

In a recent study published in Nature, researchers have made significant strides in the generative design of new protein therapies. Amidst many potential applications, of special interest is its substructure conditioning aspect that allows for preserving certain parts of a protein, like the active site, while innovating in other areas. As a patent attorney focusing on biotechnology, I find the potential of this technology in reshaping the landscape of therapeutic development both exciting and consequential.

In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Amgen v. Sanofi, I led a roundtable earlier this year where we explored how generative AI might influence patent law, specifically regarding the enablement requirement. The debate in Amgen v. Sanofi revolved around whether Amgen’s functionally defined antibody claims were too broad, given the enormous potential variety of antibody solutions. While opinions may vary on a full-scope enablement test, it’s undeniable that tools like generative AI, which can rapidly generate a range of solutions, will be transformative in developing protein-based therapeutics.

Generative AI’s ability to quickly iterate through potential solutions could have significant implications for how we assess whether a patent enables a person skilled in the art to practice the invention. This capability challenges the traditional boundaries of enablement in patent law and may necessitate reevaluating how we define the scope of patent claims, especially in rapidly evolving fields like biotechnology.

The Amgen v. Sanofi case underscores this point. As technologies like the one highlighted in the Nature paper continue to evolve, they could influence future legal decisions and patent strategies. Patent practitioners and stakeholders in the biotech industry must be cognizant of these developments and consider how they might affect current and future patents.

Looking ahead, how will the intersection of patent law and generative AI continue to evolve? Will patent laws adapt to keep pace with the rapid advancements in biotechnology, or will they remain rooted in traditional interpretations? As legal professionals and innovators in the field, we must ponder and prepare for these crucial questions. I look forward to that continued discussion.