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UK to promote AI research and development

UK to promote AI research and development

14/07/22

The Government has published its response to the UKIPO’s consultation on Artificial Intelligence & IP. By way of re-cap, the UKIPO had invited submissions from design industry stakeholders and IP professionals on possible improvements to the current system on matters relating to (i) computer-generated works (CGW); (ii) a proposed exemption to copyright and database rights for commercial text and data mining; and (iii) recognition of AI inventorship in relation to AI-devised inventions.

The subjective intention of the consultation was to determine whether the UK’s current patent and copyright laws are equipped for handling IP issues in the ever-advancing AI sector and whether they should be changed to promote AI innovation and make the UK’s IP legal framework one of the most AI friendly in the world.

After careful consideration of the respondents’ submissions, the UKIPO has agreed:

(i) no proposed changes to the law in relation to computer generated works (CGWs). The UKIPO considers the existing protection offered under Section 9(3) of the CDPA 1988 is adequate. The UKIPO has erred on the side of caution, opting not to change the law in relation to CGW’s to save from any “unintended consequences”. Ironically, the purpose of the initial purpose was to address the uncertainty regarding the scope of Section 9(3) of the CDPA 1988 in relation to CGW.

(ii) a proposal to introduce a new copyright and database exemption which allows for text and data mining for any purpose – the rationale is to make it easier to analyse material for the purpose of machine learning and expand freedoms for AI research and development. The exemption is intended to apply only to those who already have lawful access to the copyright-protected material. Therefore, copyright owners will still be able to control access to their data but won’t be able to charge interested parties extra for the purposes of mining it.

(iii) not to change UK patent law to recognise AI inventorship in relation to AI-devised inventions. This issue of whether an AI could be named as an inventor was considered at length in the recent Court of Appeal case, better known as ‘DABUS’ (discussed in detail here). In that case, it was held that based on the current wording of the Patents Act 1977, only a real person can be deemed an inventor in order to assume and confer rights in the invention. While the UKIPO recognises the law must change to keep up with ever advancing AI, any changes must be harmonised across borders to prevent any unilateral change to UK law causing confusion. Importantly, the UKIPO has not ruled out future changes to the law in this regard, suggesting that the matter will be kept under review.

If you have any questions about the UKIPOs consultation on AI or require advice in relation to intellectual property in general please contact your usual WP Thompson contact or lmu@wpt.co.uk or jmp@wpt.co.uk.

© WP Thompson Limited. Author: Lewis Mulholland