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IP rights in the context of artificial intelligence

Date: 8 February 2020


Nowadays artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t science fiction anymore, but it is all around us. As AI has more and more influence on our normal lives, it also becomes more and more relevant to the field of intellectual property law.


For innovative companies wanting to protect their ideas in this technical field, questions arise as to how artificial intelligence itself, and how the results generated by artificial intelligence, can be protected.


Artificial Intelligence and Patent law – the inventor of a patent must be a natural person


Recently the EPO decided to refuse two patent applications (EP18275163 and EP18275174) naming a machine (called “DABUS”) as inventor. The EPO stated that, according to the European patent system, the inventor of a European patent must be a natural person.


The EPO refers in its decision to Rule 19 (1) EPC. This rule stipulates that the request for grant of a European patent shall contain the designation of the inventor and this designation shall state the family name, given names and full address of the inventor. According to the EPO, indicating the name of a machine does not meet these requirements.


The EPO also considered that inventorship under the EPC is associated with various rights. However, because AI systems or machines have no legal personality, they cannot have rights that come from being an inventor.


Furthermore, the EPO remarked that the understanding that the inventor is a natural person appears to be an internationally applicable standard.


Artificial Intelligence and Copyright law - protection for article generated by an AI system


Artificial intelligence is also a hot topic in the field of copyright law. Recently, the Nanshan District Court in Shenzhen decided that an article written by an intelligent writing assistance system is protected under copyright law. The company which developed the software behind this system accused another company of copyright infringement, which was alleged to have made this article available to the public on its own website. The court ruled in favour of the plaintiff.


One can imagine that this decision will give a further boost to the development of AI systems in China.


Our team of IP specialists in Artificial Intelligence


Our team of patent attorneys and attorneys-at-law can assist companies with all questions concerning IP rights for artificial intelligence. As an international law firm with, among others, a new office in Shenzhen we can offer dedicated international support in this area.


Please see our service page for more information: Artificial Intelligence