The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) sees innovative products every day, but now it’s looking for one of its own: an innovative solution that can help determine if a patent application is truly unique.

“As the world’s body of knowledge increases and tools expand to access information, the ability of individuals to review and filter this content is increasingly challenging,” states a request for information from USPTO’s CIO. The agency details how each patent application must go through the patent prosecution process, where patent examiners must compare the application to existing ideas and products. “While most internet searches are similar to a ‘seek and find’ book, prior art search for patent prosecution is more similar to looking for a needle that did not already exist in an ever-growing haystack,” the RFI notes.

The RFI aims to “explore developing market interest-capacity in supplying a lightweight plugin(s) and/or widget technology to augment current USPTO search capabilities.” The RFI details the need for potential solutions to expand its database beyond patents, effectively segment information, retrieve the most relevant results, summarize documents to determine if information is relevant, and identify when a search has adequately reviewed possible results. USPTO also emphasized the importance of a transparent solution to both the agency and the general public.

To accomplish this goal, USPTO is turning to cutting-edge technology. “Quantum computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, etc. are examples of technology that might assist in narrowing the broad information base to manageable sizes for more careful individual review,” said USPTO.

The RFI remains open until November 2.

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