The government has responded to its call for views on AI and IP. The call for views was carried out between September and November 2020 and received 92 responses. The government response provides a summary of these responses and sets out actions to be taken forward. It says that all areas of the call for views have been considered, including patents, copyright, designs, trade marks and trade secrets.
The aim of the call for views was to understand the relationship between AI and IP. The government says that many responses painted a positive future where artificial intelligence supports human creativity and innovation and supports technological advances. But there were also concerns that AI could compete with the human creators that intellectual property is designed to protect and reward.
In many areas there was general agreement that the present framework could meet the challenges of the future. There were suggestions on how IP could better encourage and support the use and development of AI.
The government says that it will:
- Build on the suggestions made by respondents and consult later this year on a range of possible policy options, including legislative change, for protecting AI-generated inventions which would otherwise not meet inventorship criteria.
- Publish enhanced IPO guidelines on patent exclusion practice for AI inventions and engage AI interested sectors, including SMEs, and the patent attorney profession to enhance understanding of UK patent exclusion practice and AI inventions. The IPO will review its patent practice in preparation for the guidelines and establish any difference in outcome for AI patent applications filed at the IPO and the European Patent Office (EPO).
- Commission an economic study to enhance its understanding of the role the IP framework plays in providing incentives for investment in AI alongside other factors. This will draw together the international evidence. Additionally, it plans to engage with other government departments to gather emerging data and understanding of the drivers of the AI sector in the UK context. This will provide an evidence base on which to judge whether there is a rationale for further intervention in the area.
- Work with stakeholders and international partners to establish the feasibility, costs and benefits of a deposit system for data used to train AI systems disclosed within patent applications.
The government says it will:
- Review the ways in which copyright owners license their works for use with AI, and consult on measures to make this easier, including improved licensing or copyright exceptions, to support innovation and research.
- Consult on whether to limit copyright in original works to human creations (including AI-assisted creations). In tandem with this, it will consult about whether to replace the existing protection for computer-generated works with a related right, with scope and duration reflecting investment in such works. It will also consider whether action should be taken to reduce confusion between human and AI works, and the risk of false-attribution.
In addition, as part of its broader strategy on intellectual property and AI, the Intellectual Property Office will:
- Engage with like-minded nations and multilateral organisations (including the World Intellectual Property Organisation and EPO) on issues raised in the call for evidence, to deepen understanding, foster co-operation and establish common ground. The aim of this international leadership will be to shape the global debate to develop policy approaches that give the opportunity for growth as part of a balanced world IP system.
- Work with partners including the Office for AI and AI Council to further engage with and develop the IPO’s understanding of the AI sector, including technology start-ups and researchers.
- Hold a UK-wide programme of university-led seminars, building on the content of the government response. The first phase will start with a joint seminar with The Alan Turing Institute in the spring of 2021.
- Conduct research into artificial intelligence and IP enforcement, and the opportunities and challenges in this area. Research has been commissioned, to report in autumn 2021.
- Continue to look for opportunities to integrate AI into operational delivery of intellectual property rights, as part of the IPO’s Transformation programme. This will support the IPO’s aim to deliver timely, reliable and quality services. It will build on the IPO’s recently launched trade marks Pre-Apply service, which uses AI to support customers to make high-quality applications. The IPO will also use AI to validate its data and make it readily available for use by businesses.