AI and IP: managing difficulties

The BBC has reported the failure of two patent applications in the USA filed by an Artificial Intelligence System – DABUS . The protestations of DABUS’ creator that he had made absolutely no contribution to the inventions whatsoever were ignored by the US Patent and Trademark Office. It was held that inventions could only be made by “natural” persons. DABUS was refused inventor status by the UK Intellectual Property Office, and the European Patent Office some months earlier on the same grounds. Patents are for humans, not robots.

AI faces difficulties with other types of Intellectual Property (IP) too.

It is most commonly deployed in the creation and modification of software – a right that is protected in large part by the law of copyright. Copyright is automatic in the UK and tends to be the property of the author of the relevant work (the work mainly being code). AI can generate code and in theory is capable of authorship. However, the extent to which this might produce a legal right of any sort is unclear. Copyright law offers no fixed solution. Ownership is a question of degree – who made the necessary arrangements for the work to be created?

In the real world, businesses will want to benefit from IP generated by creative AI processes, regardless of who the inventor or the author is at law. To do so it is essential that their ownership is secured contractually - particularly where third party input is involved for example where AI is producing copyright works or inventions as a result of interactions with customers or contractors.

For more information on this please contact the IP team.

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