What does AI mean for Intellectual Property policy? WIPO consults

December 18, 2019

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has launched a consultation on artificial intelligence and intellectual property policy. It invites feedback on an issues paper designed to help define the most-pressing questions likely to face IP policy makers as AI increases in importance. It is the latest step in WIPO’s response to the ongoing interaction of AI with the IP system, including the use of AI applications in IP administration. The consultation ends on 14 February 2020.

WIPO points out that AI has emerged as a general-purpose technology with widespread applications throughout the economy and society. It is already having, and is likely to have increasingly in the future, a significant impact on the creation, production and distribution of economic and cultural goods and services. As such, AI intersects with intellectual property policy at a number of different points, since one of the main aims of IP policy is to stimulate innovation and creativity in the economic and cultural systems.

As policy makers start to consider the wide-ranging effects of AI, the WIPO has started to engage on the aspects of AI that are specific to IP. There are several threads to this engagement.

The first is AI in IP administration. AI applications are being increasingly deployed in the administration of applications for IP protection: WIPO Translate and WIPO Brand Image Search, which use AI-based applications for automated translation and image recognition, are two such examples. Several IP offices have developed and deployed other AI applications. In May 2018, WIPO convened a meeting to discuss these AI applications and to foster the exchange of information and the sharing of such applications. WIPO continue to use its convening power and position as the international organisation responsible for IP policy to continue this dialogue and exchange.

The second is strategy. AI has become a strategic capability for many governments across the globe. Strategies for the development of AI capacity and AI regulatory measures have been adopted with increasing frequency. WIPO has been encouraged to collate the main government instruments of relevance to AI and IP. To this end, a dedicated website will be published shortly that seeks to link to these various resources with the aim of facilitating information sharing. 

The third thread is an open and inclusive process aimed at developing a list of the main IP policy questions and issues arising out of the widespread adoption of AI technology. The WIPO Secretariat is to develop a draft list of issues that might provide the basis for a shared understanding of the main questions that need to be discussed or addressed in relation to IP policy and AI.

The issues paper constitutes the draft prepared by the WIPO Secretariat of issues arising for IP policy in relation to AI. The key issues identified for discussion are patents, copyright, data designs, technology, gap and capacity building and accountability for IP administrative decisions but comments are sought on whether there are any other issues that need to be included. A revised paper will form the basis of the Second Session of the WIPO Conversation on IP and AI in May 2020.