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‘A better way’: Polsinelli launches AI tool for patent applications

A team of Polsinelli attorneys who help clients obtain patents for their inventions has created an innovation of its own: proprietary software that uses artificial intelligence to help lawyers draft patent applications.

Patrick Woolley


The firm launched its PatentCAD software program, which uses machine learning to enhance attorneys’ practices, in recent weeks. Patrick Woolley, the Kansas City-based chair of Polsinelli’s intellectual property department, said the idea for PatentCAD stemmed from the firm’s tests of several other commercially available tools.

“We were not happy with them,” Woolley said. “They caused more work and more issues and detracted from the quality of the work. [We thought], ‘There has got to be a better way.’”

Simon Booth, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney for Polsinelli, saw an opportunity for the firm to develop its own software. Booth worked with his colleagues across the country to build PatentCAD fully in-house.

The team tested the product and modified it along the way to fit the firm’s needs, Woolley said. As the program got better and became more intuitive through machine learning, the firm felt more ready to give it a try. So far, the attorneys are pleased with the result.

“We couldn’t be happier,” Woolley said. “We really view this as a benefit not only for us internally, but for our clients.”

When using the software, patent attorneys write the claims for a patent application, which serve as a sort of outline for the invention, Woolley said. After an attorney enters the claims into the program, PatentCAD writes most of the remaining portions of the patent application.

“They now have a draft, and once they have that draft, they can then start to correct it and modify it,” he said. “It shortcuts them in a substantial way in terms of drafting and allows them to be more efficient.”

Through time, the program is learning the ins and outs of patent applications. One example of its strength is ensuring patent application drafters are using the proper verb tense. Using the wrong verb tense is a common mistake for newer attorneys, Woolley said.

“This is a tool that makes sure they have a consistent verb tense where appropriate,” he said.

Creating more efficiency in the drafting process allows attorneys, especially associates, to focus more on the overall quality of the product, Woolley said.

“Most patent applications have a budget. This gives them a little extra time to really make sure that things are perfect,” he said. “We really like it because it not only saves time and increases efficiency, [but] it also helps us increase quality.”

Currently, the program assists only with patent applications in the areas of electrical engineering and software. Woolley said the team hopes to eventually expand it to include more complex areas such as chemistry and biotechnology.

Along with helping lawyers in their practices, the program also relieves client concerns about data privacy, he said, noting that similar products often are developed overseas and clients’ sensitive information may be stored in systems that are abroad.

“The other thing that we’re happy about is all this information is stored on our server and not accessible and hosted by another third party in another country,” he said.