Here are my three predictions for 2024:
- Generative AI will arrive in the patent attorney practice
- Generative AI will kill the billable hour
- Generative AI will boost patent quality
Let me explain:
AI Will Arrive In The Patent Attorney Practice
I anticipate a significant shift in how patent firms operate. By the end of 2024, many patent attorney firms will have started to craft their own prompt libraries, individualized LLMs and other AI-based tools for very specific use cases.
These firms will use AI securely in real cases, for creating real work products. Enough talking, more doing.
How do I know?
- Proof of concept: I’ve seen how an off-the-shelf AI can take a set of claims and draft a pretty solid first draft of a patent application. In less than 13 minutes. Set up over a weekend. Running on my laptop, completely secure. The potential is mind-blowing.
- Market demand: Patent attorneys, both in private practice and in-house, are eager to learn how to use AI in their work. 164 workshop pre-registrations in 5 days are a safe indicator.
AI Will Kill The Billable Hour
When I started my career in private practice 15 years ago, hourly billing was the only business model I was taught:
- Set your hourly rate
- Do the work
- Bill out your time
Maybe give an estimate of how many hours you will spend if asked by the client. Always give a range, not an exact number.
Two things I always found crazy about this model:
- Hourly billing puts the cost risk on the client. Because the price is determined only after the work is done. This is the exact opposite of client centricity.
- Hourly billing penalizes efficiency. When you work faster, you earn less. There is no incentive to automate tasks and work more efficiently.
The wide-spread adoption of AI in the patent attorney practice will finally change this:
Looking at my current passion project, the “AI-assisted patent drafting” use case, my first experiments show that the manual labor could be reduced by up to 50% when drafting a simple patent application.
Smart patent attorneys will use this huge efficiency potential to offer fixed-fee arrangements that are beneficial both for the client and the patent attorney. Think win-win. I will be sharing more on this throughout 2024.
AI Will Boost Patent Quality
What immediately comes to mind are all sorts of simple tools that have a direct impact on patent quality, like consistency checkers, reference sign assigners, and antecedent basis checkers.
But the real potential lies elsewhere – in the possibility to reallocate the human intellect in the patent drafting process:
For me, drafting patent claims that are patentable, enforcable, and have business value is among the intellectually most stimulating tasks I can think of. It’s also the task that has the biggest impact on the quality of the overall patent application.
Once the claims have been refined and tweaked with the inventors and approved by the client, drafting the rest of the patent application typically involves a large part of diligence work with less strategic thinking required.
When AI is used to automate the diligence work in patent drafting, at least part of the freed-up time of the patent attorney can be reinvested into activities that can greatly boost patent quality:
- Discussing the innovation more deeply with the client and the inventors
- Learning more about the client’s industry, technology, and business model
- Spending more time on, i.e., putting more brain power into, the patent claims
Let’s Create The Future Together
I’m incredibly excited for 2024. Some of the projects I’m especially looking forward to are:
- Build a secure AI patent drafting toolbox based on an enhanced prompt library and a fine-tuned LLM that embodies both technical knowledge and patent expertise
- Explore more GenAI use cases beyond patent drafting
- Teach others how to do it in workshops and a community I will be launching soon
As I will be building this in public, I invite you to join me on this exciting journey. Follow my progress on LinkedIn and YouTube, and don’t miss the chance to be part of my first Secure AI-Assisted Patent Drafting workshop.
Here’s to a groundbreaking 2024, where AI supercharges the patent practice for the benefit of clients and patent attorneys alike!
Header image created by DALL·E 3 based on this prompt: “Create the featured image of a blog article titled “My 2024: The Year Of AI And New Business Models”. The image should be in a cyberpunk style with neon colors and show a human person and an AI working alongside on a patent document, emphasizing the human element in the context of technological collaboration and innovation.”