Enlarge (credit: EFF)
Each month, the patent lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation shine a spotlight on one particular patent they believe is a drag on innovation.

This month, they’re looking at one of the fastest-growing sectors of technology: machine learning and artificial intelligence.
EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer has picked out an artificial intelligence patent belonging to Hampton Creek, a San Francisco food-tech company that markets products under the brand name “just.” US Patent No. 9,760,834 describes what the company calls its “machine-learning enabled discovery platform” and ways of discovering new ingredients.
The patent claim is on the long side, so there’s a whole variety of specific things one would have to do to infringe it.

But EFF’s Daniel Nazer says the patent “reflects a worrying trend” because the lengthy Claim 1 amounts to doing machine learning on a particular type of application.

During the prosecution process, Hampton Creek argued that its patent should be allowed, in part, because earlier techniques applied machine learning to “assay data” rather than protein fragments.
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