Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a crucial tool for organizations in various sectors, particularly in the generation of content and code by generative AI systems such as ChatGPT, GitHub Copilot, AlphaCode, Bard and DALL-E, among other tools. As the promise of incorporating these generative tools in the corporate setting is all but assured in the near term, there are a number of risks that need to be minimized as companies more forward. In particular, as AI applications grow increasingly sophisticated, they raise concerns with several forms of intellectual property (IP), such as patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. This article aims to discuss these issues and provide a sample company policy for using AI-generated content such as software code.
In response to last week’s hearing of the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on copyright law, former Copyright Office General Counsel, Jon Baumgarten, submitted a letter this week to the Subcommittee expressing his concerns with the testimony of one of the witnesses, Sy Damle of Latham & Watkins, who also formerly served as U.S. Copyright Office General Counsel. The letter was published in full on the Copyright Alliance website.
The House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet today held the first of several planned hearings about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on intellectual property, focusing in this initial hearing on copyright law. The witnesses included three artists, a professor, and an attorney with varying perspectives on the matter, although the artists all expressed similar concerns about the potentially dire effects of generative AI (GAI) applications on their respective industries and careers.
The patent examination process is subject to the well-known issue of hindsight bias. Issues with hindsight bias come up when a patent examiner, without realizing it, uses their knowledge of the invention itself to reject a claim as being obvious. If left unchecked, these issues can lead to incorrect determinations of obviousness, which prolong prosecution, cause unnecessary ex parte appeals to be filed, and force unfair narrowing of independent claims. However, even when an examiner learns about an invention that seems straightforward, human emotions and subjectivity can make it difficult for that examiner to appreciate that the invention was not obvious based on prior art that existed before the invention.
The issue of AI inventorship in the United States remains at large following the Supreme Court’s denial of cert in Thaler v. Vidal, meaning that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) finding that AI cannot be considered a named inventor to a patent application remains the law of the land. Now that the agency is seeking public comments on the issue of AI inventorship, I reached out to Dr. Thaler to get his comments on the current AI inventorship debate within the patent space.
Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) promises to improve information gathering and reduce costs in a myriad of economic processes. Since patent law is essentially about recording and accessing information, tools like ChatGPT are great candidates to ease the tasks of patent professionals. As of today, it is not possible to trust GAI tools with confidential information, since any prompt provided to these tools does not guarantee confidentiality and data protection, unless an entity creates its own sandbox with customized implementations that protect the data.
On April 27, a pair of legal measures were advanced within the European Union that promise to greatly impact the state of technological commercialization within Europe for both standardized and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. While political leaders in the EU maintain that either proposal addresses consumer safety and competition concerns, multiple commentators have pointed out issues that could slow the rate of technological commercialization to the detriment of Europeans across the continent.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) held its East Coast Listening Session on AI Inventorship today, featuring both USPTO staff and patent stakeholder speakers contemplating possible approaches to patenting in a world in which generative artificial intelligence (AI) almost seems to have snuck up on everyone. While many speakers cautioned against moving too quickly to change the rules for AI-generated inventions, others warned that doing nothing could result in chaos for the USPTO and grave economic and innovation losses for the country.
In the latest episode of IP Goes Pop!, co-hosts Michael Snyder and Joseph Gushue dive into the first part of a series on the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential impact on, not only the world, but copyright, trademarks and patents. They examine examples of AI in pop culture, and how they reflect the broader trends and concerns surrounding AI in our society. Artificial intelligence (whether tied to robots or otherwise) has always been a popular trope in movies, television shows, and books, from Isaac Asimov’s “I Robot” seminal book series, to the classic “Terminator” movies, to the more recent “Ex Machina” and “M3GAN”. Rapid advancements in technology have now enabled AI to become part of our daily lives which raises not only important legal questions, but also ethical considerations for humans when developing AI technologies.
Current artificial intelligence (AI) systems can generate an astonishing variety of content, including text-based works, audio, video, images, programming code, product designs, technical papers, etc. In many cases, the output from an AI system is virtually indistinguishable from that of a human. This trend is expected to continue at an ever-increasing rate in the coming years. Since content solely generated by an AI system is not available for protection under existing intellectual property laws, the following are practical guidelines for human creators who wish to protect content that was created with the assistance of an AI system.
Resources such as marketing and branding agencies can help new businesses struggling to find a unique brand name, and lawyers specializing in trademark law can help evaluate infringement and refusal risks and assist in registering a trademark. That said, the costs associated with each of these options are not insignificant, leading some smaller brands and startups to choose a name, do a quick internet search for prior use, and just hope they don’t face repercussions. One of the many issues with this is that as a new business grows and becomes more recognizable, the increased exposure makes it easier for someone with pre-existing rights to find and enforce those rights against the new business. This could include financial penalties and a complete rebrand of the business causing confusion to established customers, which is why choosing and trademarking one’s brand name early is vital. Insert Artificial Intelligence (AI). I
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is providing enormous productivity and increased value in many applications. But AI is no panacea and is not yet sufficiently well developed to be precise or dependable everywhere. For example, much better AI training data is required to reliably estimate patent essentiality to standards such as 4G and 5G, where AI is being advocated by various experts and has already been adopted by one patent pool. There is also a lot of room for improvement in inferencing.
The U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) has announced a new statement of policy on “Works Containing Material Generated by Artificial Intelligence” that will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, March 16. The statement comes following several recent cases that have tested the bounds of copyright protection for works generated solely or in part by AI authors. Most recently, the USCO held in a case involving a graphic novel, Zarya of the Dawn, featuring AI-generated images that the copyright registration would be limited to the text of the novel, which was the product of human authorship. The Office there explained that the “the text of the graphic novel ‘as well as the selection, coordination, and arrangement of the Work’s written and visual elements’ are protectable under copyright law” but that the images themselves were not.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing Wednesday that was part one of a series it will be running on IP and “Strategic Competition with China.” On the same day, speakers on the final panel of IPWatchdog’s AI Masters discussed many of the same issues addressed in the hearing, with the overwhelming takeaway across both panels being that the United States needs a new plan when it comes to IP protection in cutting-edge technology sectors, where China is increasingly outpacing U.S. innovation. The House hearing was introduced by Subcommittee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA), who explained that the United States’ national security is at risk because China is on a quest to achieve technological superiority. Issa told his colleagues that “the witnesses will both educate us, and to a certain extent, scare many of us.”
The U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) released its decision this past week in Kristina Kashtanova’s case about the comic book, Zarya of the Dawn. Kashtanova will keep the copyright registration, but it will be limited to the text and the whole work as a compilation. In one sense this is a success, as the Office was previously threatening to revoke the copyright altogether. But the Office limited the registration and specifically excluded the individual images created by Kashtanova from the copyrighted material. This is a setback for all the artists that would like to use artificial intelligence (AI) tools as part of their creative process.