AI not yet perfect in determining IP rights, conference participants say

Intellectual property and legal experts from around the world shared insights on new challenges that artificial intelligence technology is bringing to IP laws at a forum during the 10th China Intellectual Property Annual Conference on Tuesday.

Wang Jun, managing partner at Beijing TA Law Firm, said entities in the AI industry including program designers, AI operators and investors can claim copyright ownership in China.

"But under the current Chinese copyright law, there is no way for AI itself to own the copyright for now," Wang said.

In consideration of making AI a legal entity as a human, the owner of the AI should take more legal responsibilities and measures including developing AI as an independent asset, Wang said.

Kay Konishi, managing partner at Japanese patent agency Konishi &Nagaoka, said AI programs and learning models are protected as computer programs under current law and practice in Japan.

Japanese copyright law defines a creation as a production in which thoughts and sentiments are creatively expressed and the copyrighted work falls within literature, academic research, art and music sectors, Konishi said.

For an AI creation to be copyrighted, it needs to be an expression where thoughts or sentiments can be manifested - more than just reflecting an idea and creativity. Works created by AI itself cannot be copyrighted because they neither have thoughts, sentiments nor ideas, she said.

A work created with human intervention may be copyrighted if AI serves as a tool and the human side contributes to the creation by creatively expressing an idea, she said.

Alexander Clelland, former chairman of the board of appeal at the European Patent Office, said AI is good at data evaluation but weak in decision-making.

"AI is considered as a mathematical method in EPO and the office has never defined what technology means," Clelland said. "Most inventions are a mixture of technical and non-technical features."

In terms of AI, any technical content means it is not excluded subject matter, and inventive steps must be considered, he added.

The WIPO Technology Trends 2019 AI Report released by the World Intellectual Property Organization shows that 340,000 patent applications related to AI have been filed since the 1950s, with more than half of them registered since 2013.

Since 2010, AI technology has grown rapidly in China and the momentum is expected to continue, said Song Yan, an attorney from CCPIT Patent and Trademark Law Office, affiliated with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

"Computer vision and image recognition will be an important technological growth point," Song said.

Under Chinese patent law, what can be patented needs to reflect the combination between algorithm and technology, and provide a specific applicable solution, she said.

Chinese filers need to enhance their international AI patent applications via the Patent Cooperation Treaty to maintain their competitiveness in the overseas market, she added.

(Source: China Daily)