Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Curtis Capeling authored an article for the Nashville Business Journal discussing artificial intelligence (AI) technology in healthcare and strategies for tech companies to protect innovations in this space.

“Artificial intelligence advances the quality of healthcare,” Curtis said, noting that patient service chatbots and virtual health assistants make healthcare easier for patients to navigate, machine learning and deep learning systems help diagnose a range of health conditions, and AI-enabled devices help doctors read images and scans and enable robot-assisted surgery.

Use of AI in healthcare is increasing, and tech innovators face challenges protecting their intellectual property in this complex area. Curtis detailed the types of protection potentially available.

Trade secret protection may be available for algorithms that make AI systems effective if they are kept confidential, and the code that implements algorithms may be entitled to copyright protection. Copyright and trade secret protection may also be available for large data sets used for training AI systems if there is sufficient original expression in the selection and arrangement of the data points, and they are kept confidential.

Patent protection can be more challenging for AI algorithms, but it may be available if they are part of a larger system, and it may be particularly worthwhile if disclosure requirements make trade secret protection not feasible. “Framing innovation as a larger system – including query formulation, the machine learning system or algorithm itself, the training set and output and how the output is used – may make patent protection available for critical parts of AI systems,” Curtis explained.

Finally, the terms of contracts for customer use of AI can be carefully tailored to help protect IP rights in various elements of AI systems.

The full article, “Artificial Intelligence in Health Care: Protect your IP Assets,” was published by the Nashville Business Journal on February 19 and is available online or the print edition.