On March 23, 2021, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) announced the results of its open consultation on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on intellectual property (IP) policy covering patents, copyright, trademarks, designs and trade secrets. The consultation was carried out in late 2020, with a total of 92 responses received from numerous stakeholders, including IP attorneys, industry associations, tech sectors and other creative industries. In light of the consultation results, the UK government has published its response and proposed actions to support its objective for the UK to be a leader in AI technology and encourage innovation in this space.

In general, responders agreed that the present IP framework is equipped to handle future challenges, such as liability claims arising from infringement by AI. While responders accepted that the AI itself should not be owning its IP, there were different takes on whether inventions or works created by AI should be protected. On the question of patents, many viewed that the existing approach to inventorship criteria has a detrimental impact on innovation. In the area of copyright, some argued that AI-generated works should be afforded protection as a separate right of lesser duration and scope.

Building on the results of the IPO’s consultation, some of the actions the UK government plans on taking includes:

  • consulting on possible policy options, including legislative change, for protecting AI-generated inventions which do not meet inventorship criteria;
  • publishing enhanced IPO guidelines on patent exclusion practice for AI inventions;
  • conducting an economic study on the role the IP framework plays in incentivising investment in AI;
  • reviewing measures by which copyright owners license their works for use with AI, and consulting to improve licensing or copyright exceptions to support innovation; and
  • consulting on whether to limit copyright in original works to human creations (including AI-assisted creations) and whether to replace the existing protection for computer-generated works with a related right to reflect investment in such works.

The interest in questions on the intersection of AI and IP is far from new. The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently published a report exploring similar issues around IP rights for emerging technologies following public submissions (previously reported in the E-TIPS® newsletter here). The public consultations and research done in numerous jurisdictions provides an insight into potential changes in the IP landscape concerning AI technologies coming up in the future.

Summary By: Anna Troshchynsky


21 03 31

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