A Roundtable Discussion with the USPTO’s Elizabeth Dougherty

Can artificial intelligence (AI) constitute an inventor? That was one of the questions posed at the recent roundtable discussion hosted by the Office of Technology Transfer. Leading the discussion was Elizabeth Dougherty, Eastern Regional Outreach Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Dougherty has 28 years of experience as a patent examiner, legal advisor and administrator at the USPTO.

Attendees of the OTT roundtable discussion (left to right): Andrea Adkins, Amanda Reno, Stephen Smith, Elizabeth Dougherty, Christopher Serafin, Svetlana Shtrom, Robert Wilson, Sandra Sovinski, Jennifer McKinley, Jack Stubbs, Lucy Sneeringer, Kathleen Snoeblen, John Miner.

Besides the impact of AI as it relates to patenting intellectual property, Dougherty and the group discussed other topics including the following: USPTO diversity initiatives, mandatory electronic filing requirements for trademarks, ways to determine the patentability of a technology, how to navigate the USPTO website and patent application system, and the expense and complications related to international patents. Dougherty also provided insight into the training and work of a patent examiner. She noted that the USPTO has patent examiners teleworking in nearly every state except Alaska and that the USPTO is the “gold standard” for telework at the U.S. government.

For more information, Dougherty recommended these links:

  • Patents Ombudsman Office. The office assists applicants and attorneys when they encounter delays or issues during the application process, from the initial filing to post-examination.
  • Patents for Humanity. The USPTO award recognizes patent holders whose innovations provide solutions to humanitarian challenges worldwide.
  • Subject Matter Eligibility, Patent Examination Guidelines. The guidelines document how patent examiners and other personnel evaluate claims in patent applications.
  • Florida Resources. Florida residents can get access to free patent and trademark legal assistance and learn to search for inventions and trademarks at Patent and Trademark Resource Centers, like the UCF Libraries. They can also attend inventor and entrepreneur workshops and network with inventor and entrepreneur organizations in the state.
  • Diversity. Learn about the Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act of 2018.
  • Events. Example events include workshops, training, changes to law and policy, speeches and international initiatives.