The Growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Raises Questions for Intellectual Property

Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the creation and use of machines that can perform intelligent tasks that typically require human intelligence. In recent years, AI has advanced rapidly due to the availability of large amounts of data and improvements in computing power and algorithms. This has led to an increase in AI-generated content and inventions, the creation of which has significant implications for Intellectual Property (IP) matters. Businesses and consumers who utilize AI should understand how IP laws could apply to AI to ensure that their AI-generated creations are protected while also avoiding infringement of existing IP rights by their AI-generated content. As AI continues to evolve and become more prevalent, it is likely that IP laws will continue to adapt to keep pace with these advancements.

If you’re looking to understand the power of AI in today’s world, look no further than the paragraph above. The text of the above paragraph was produced by ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI. I have to admit that I did make a few edits to the original text, but as a lawyer, I just can’t help myself.

Below is a brief introduction to AI and its relevance to IP issues from an actual human perspective. McDermott IP Law has taken a particular interest in the rapid development of artificial intelligence because, frankly, there are numerous questions raised by AI as it relates to intellectual property rights, and our clients are asking for guidance. Understanding what AI is and how it creates content provides a basis for us to investigate those matters further.

What Falls Under “Artificial Intelligence?”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines artificial intelligence as “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.” This simple definition reflects the reality that AI is an umbrella term for numerous different technologies.

AI is no longer just on the horizon – it’s here and is all around us already. Search engines, speech recognition, maps, and navigation apps on your phone, autocorrect and predictive text features, social media algorithms… the list goes on. The Associated Press has actually been publishing sports articles written by artificial intelligence for years.

People often think of artificial intelligence as a physical threat that will someday cause machines to rise up against us, similar to what you might see in a science fiction thriller movie, but AI has been introduced and implemented into our lives in helpful ways for decades. The recent prevalence of it centers on the fact that there have been several notable developments creating more direct consumer access to AI technology.

Who Makes AI?

While AI requires significant computing power to produce results, someone had to invent the technology – meaning there are tangible elements to any “artificial” intelligence. There will always be a human element to AI because, at its core, the technology was developed and introduced by humans.

Large corporations have been taking the lead on AI technology development – IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple, for example. These companies have invested significantly in AI and will continue to do so as computing technologies advance and new ways to make lives more efficient through AI technology become available and widely accessible.

Who Holds Intellectual Property Rights to Artificial Intelligence?

The world of intellectual property has and will continue to evolve as AI evolves. As far as who is entitled to any patent rights related to actual AI technologies, the human or corporate inventors of the technology, assuming it’s otherwise patentable, would retain those rights.

However, AI also has already started inventing things itself – so who holds the rights to what AI has created or invented? To date, the intellectual property laws, as adopted by Congress and interpreted by the courts, provide that only humans can possess the right to inventorship. Of course, such inventions and the IP rights in such inventions can be owned by corporate entities. This means AI, e.g., inanimate objects or machines, does not retain patent rights over whatever it creates, but the creator of the original AI will often be able to claim rights over those successive inventions.

Where things can get more complicated is when we consider whether and how content created by AI might infringe on the intellectual property rights of others and also whether and how others’ protected inventions and content can be used by AI. Ultimately, creations like “AI art” or “AI articles” have to originate from somewhere – and they may be sourced from the works of humans, producing questionable IP right in the AI content and graying the line between creator and computer.

In the coming months, we will explore how intellectual property rights might be impacted by artificial intelligence and what you can do to protect yourself and your rights. As always, if you have other AI and IP-related questions or need help protecting or enforcing your intellectual property, contact McDermott IP Law.

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