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Intellectual Property Rights In The Era Of Artificial Intelligence

An undergraduate Law student with a flair for photography, Trishla Jain takes a keen interest in IP Laws and their interdisciplinary applications. With her specialization in Intellectual Property Rights, Trishla aims to expand her research expertise in this domain.


From literature and movies to our world, Artificial Intelligence has already made countless advances in almost every field. At one point, it seemed like a distant possibility, but it has gained momentum in recent years. Every sector of the economy will be impacted by Artificial Intelligence, including Intellectual Property Rights (‘IPR’). IPR will be impacted by Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’) in two different ways. To some extent, it will seem to be advantageous in areas like patents and patent search engines, accurate and pertinent research, and providing a way to classify ideas and discoveries. On the other hand, AI may prove to be a threat to innovation and growth, which are the actual essence of IPR, by giving the inventor a method to check for patents that are similar to their idea that already exists, among other things. The impact of digital technologies on Intellectual Property Rights, the benefits, and drawbacks of Artificial Intelligence on IPR innovation and development, the potential applications of AI in IPR, and their liabilities are all covered in this article.

KEYWORDS: Artificial Intelligence, Intellectual Property, Innovation, Machine Learning.


Sometime early in this century, the intelligence of machines will exceed that of humans. Within a quarter of a century, machines will exhibit the full range of human intellect, emotions, and skills, ranging from musical and other creative aptitudes to physical movement. They will claim to have feelings and, unlike today’s virtual personalities, will be very convincing when they tell us so. – Ray Kurzweil (2008)[1]

‘The Terminator’ starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and ‘The Imitation Game’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch may be familiar to many of us. The Imitation Game, in particular, depicts the life of a profoundly odd English mathematician named Alan Turing, who may have been the first person to work on intelligent machines. These films are centred around very clever human-like machines. One of the most significant technologies of the current time is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI has developed to the point that it is “likely to leave no stratum of society unaffected,” and is “getting close to the technological tipping point of generating ground-shattering repercussions on humans.”

But lately, science has been gaining ground over fiction. The technological landscape is evolving quickly, and Artificial Intelligence systems have been gaining popularity. With advanced technology being incorporated, it is only a matter of time before these systems begin to develop wonderful creations without any form of human interference. AI refers to a machine’s ability to mimic intelligent behaviour.


AI is not a recent phenomenon; computer scientists like Alan Turing, Marvin Minsky, and John McCarthy have significantly contributed to its theoretical and technological foundation during the past 70 years. Many businesses and governments currently use AI to some extent. Mr. John McCarthy, a computer scientist, officially created the phrase “Artificial Intelligence” during a conference in 1956. He claimed that it was the idea of a computer analyzing information and behaving on it in a way that is similar to how an intelligent person would react to the same input.

Some people define Artificial Intelligence (AI) broadly as a computerised system that demonstrates behaviours that are typically thought to require intelligence, while others define AI as a system that can logically solve complex problems or take appropriate action to achieve its objectives in real-world situations. Artificial Intelligence is frequently defined in terms of the problem domains it addresses, such as logical reasoning, knowledge representation, planning and navigation, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and perception, or in terms of its frequently overlapping subfields, such as Machine Learning (ML), deep learning, artificial neural networks, expert systems, and robotics.


Artificial Intelligence and Copyright:

Copyright is the right that belongs to the creator of an original work, which can be anything from a literary work to a song to a piece of software, etc. The intersection of AI and copyright has existed for a while, but there used to be no disagreement regarding who would own the copyright over the work. This is because the programme or machine only served as a tool for creating that work, similar to pen and paper, and the idea or the work belonged to the programmer. However, with the advancements in AI and the development of machines with human-like intelligence, conflicts have arisen. Machine learning, a branch of AI, can produce original work independent of any human. As a result, there are issues regarding copyright that need clear laws and norms to avoid disputes.

Artificial Intelligence and Patent:

AI is gaining momentum in the intersection of patent laws. AI can be beneficial for patent protection, patent search, and search tools, as well as for inventors by giving them an early indication of whether a similar idea already exists. However, there are a few key topics that need attention while discussing patents and AI.

  • The first issue is the development of AI tools and systems as The debate over how AI will be governed by international humanitarian law cannot be disregarded.
  • The second issue is the pharmaceutical industry, where the development of new drugs is of utmost importance. When an AI machine successfully creates a medicine, a patent issue arises. For instance, if an AI machine develops a vaccine for the global pandemic corona virus, there will be much ambiguity regarding who will own the patent.
  • The third issue is road safety, where AI is being used to prevent accidents and monitor drivers’ conduct.
  • Finally, patent law is all about innovation and invention, and there needs to be a clear picture of who will have the patent in case of an invention by an AI machine or programmer.

AI & Traditional Knowledge:

Traditional knowledge is something that has been acquired or occasionally practised (it could be a skill, knowledge, or practise in general). Traditional knowledge is a valuable component of many communities’ rich legacy. AI may violate existing traditional knowledge by using abstractions from that knowledge. It is therefore possible that an AI machine or programme may violate customary knowledge.


Determining liability when an AI computer violates Intellectual Property Rights is one of the most highly contested issues. It is unclear who will be responsible for the violation of Intellectual Property Rights if the programmer did not have knowledge or a deliberate desire to violate those rights. Consequently, there is a gap that needs to be filled to define the responsibility of the AI device or programme. If the infringement is of such a kind where criminal liability is being incurred, then how will the AI have individual criminal responsibility? The topic of culpability needs to be resolved to avoid arguments and misunderstandings.


There is no question that Artificial Intelligence can, to a certain extent, prove to be an asset in the field of intellectual property rights. For example, AI is capable of making many inventions that would otherwise take humans ages to make and can aid in the advancement of nations. However, there are many gaps and ambiguities surrounding the use of AI in Intellectual Property Rights, and AI can also prove to be a threat because there are issues with determining liability. Regarding Artificial Intelligence and how liability will be decided, policies and rules are required. Who will own the copyright, patent, or any other Intellectual Property Rights over the work or creation of AI must also be made clear. Because Artificial Intelligence is still in its infancy and is developing rapidly, there will continue to be debates about its effects on various fields, including Intellectual Property Rights, until clear guidelines regarding its use, its legal obligations, and its permissible scope of interference are established. Given how quickly AI is developing at the moment, a roadmap for its operation, regulation, and liability is the need of the hour.

In a nutshell, AI is highly beneficial when it is under the programmer’s control, but the moment it begins to operate independently and without outside supervision, it may constitute a threat to not only the realm of Intellectual Property Rights but to everyone in general.

[1] Ray Kurzweil, “The Coming Merging of Mind and Machine”, Scientific American (23 March 2009), https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ merging-of-mind-and-machine; accessed on 17th march,2021.

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