• Namrata Pahwa

Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property

Artificial Intelligence in the world of Intellectual Property has raised points regarding the inventions related to AI generally using techniques like machine learning deep learning and neural networks. According to WIPO, the most predominant AI functional applications has been filed in the fields of telecommunications, transportation and life and medical sciences with activity mainly in computer vision, natural language processing and speech processing. The fundamental goal of the IP system is to encourage innovation through new technologies and creative works. This includes human created as well as AI created inventions and works.

The benefits of AI technology are varied and could truly have potential to revolutionise many aspects of life, including within the world of IP, but the introduction of AI technology also poses a number of challenges within the IP industry. Usually, the first owner of a piece of work protected by copyright is generally the ‘author’, or the person who created the work. Likewise, the first owner of a design right is the designer and the first owner of a patent is the inventor. In all of these cases ownership is directly linked to the creation of the subject matter. If it is therefore accepted that AI machines can create the subject matter, would that make the AI machine the first owner of the IP?

If AIs are able to create, it is worth considering that they might also be liable in certain circumstances. AI that analyzes a company’s investment strategies or personalizes big data to a tailor-made marketing advertisement, by way of auto-copying information, might be subject to claims of infringement of copyright, trade secrets, or even data privacy. In the same manner, a computer that produces poetry or artwork or generates 3D printing could be accused of copyright or trademark infringement if it uses others’ IP without requesting authorization. Finally, a self-learning machine that develops a precise and quick process could be accused of patent infringement for using protected technology without knowing that it was already patented.

Due to their dynamic nature and humankind’s continued new creations, it is common to see IP laws changed and updated from time to time. Legislative changes to existing IP laws might be required in order to establish regulations for IP works created solely by AI to decide which creations should reside in the public domain, and which parties should be entitled and recognized as the owners of IP resulting from the creation by AI.


Machine learning uses examples of input and expected output (so called “structured data” or “training data”), in order to continually improve and make decisions without being programmed how to do so in a step-by-step sequence of instructions. This approach mimics actual biological cognition: a child learns to recognize objects (such as cups) from examples of the same objects (such as various kinds of cups). Today application of machine learning is widespread including email spam filtering, machine translation, voice, text and image recognition. Deep learning has evolved from machine learning. Deep learning uses a plurality of AI algorithms (so called “artificial neural networks”) to recognize patterns, hence being able to group and classify unlabeled data.


Copyright is an integral part of intellectual property rights. It is a legal right granted to the creator of an original work, allowing him/her exclusive rights for its use and distribution. Generally, for a grant of a copyright, fulfillment of two essential features is required. Firstly, the work should be in a tangible form, and secondly, it should be original. A copyright is exercised generally for literary and artistic works. Since one of the contemporary areas of AI’s applicability is creation of literary works, the study of copyright in light of AIs, becomes relevant, as seen in Tencent v. Shanghai Yingxun Technology Co., Ltd.


To understand the patentability of AI related inventions, one needs to recognise that an AI related invention is not a single invention but a combination of several. It could be a computational or a mathematical method or an algorithm or a combination of both. Further, the foundation of AI lies in its algorithms or mathematical models and this is not eligible for patent protection.

AI-related patents not only disclose AI techniques and applications, they often also refer to a field or industry of application. The WIPO report shows that many sectors and industries are exploring ways to exploit AI commercially. These include banking, entertainment, security, industry, manufacturing, agriculture and networks. Many AI-related technologies can be used across different sectors, as shown by the large number of patents in AI that refer to multiple industries.

Japanese and American companies hold the largest AI patent portfolios. While Japanese consumer companies dominate, the two top spots are held by U.S. companies IBM and Microsoft, whose patent portfolios include a wide range of AI applications and techniques.

Chinese Internet giant Baidu ranks highly for deep learning; Toyota, Bosch and Hyundai are prominent in transportation; and Siemens, Philips and Samsung lead in the life and medical sciences. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) head the list, followed by the Japan Patent Office (JPO). These three offices account for 78 percent of all AI-related patent filings. There is, however, a notable difference between applications filed in Japan and the United States, on the one hand, and those filed in China, on the other hand. Organizations from the Republic of Korea also feature prominently among the top academic players, notably the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI).

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