November 22, 2021
The Government has launched the Strategy to help strengthen the UK’s position as a “global science superpower”.
Alongside measures to develop the next generation of AI talent through continued support for postgraduate learning, retraining and making sure children from wide backgrounds can access specialist courses, the Government says that the Strategy will “position the UK as a global leader in raising the standards around the use of the technology while building the case for deeper investor confidence”. The Strategy covers launching a National AI Research and Innovation Programme, launching a joint Office for AI (OAI) and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) programme, reviewing the availability and capacity of computing power for UK researchers and organisations, trialling an AI Standards Hub, and launching a consultation on copyright and patents for AI through the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to make sure that the UK is capitalising on the ideas it generates, and supporting AI development and use through the copyright and patent system. The Strategy has a ten-year vision to transform the UK’s capabilities in AI in parallel with the rapid technological expansion around the world.
The IPO’s consultation considers the IP rights of patents and copyright, which reward and protect inventions and creative works, in light of the fact that AI is playing an increasing role in both technical innovation and artistic creativity.
The IPO recognises that patents and copyright must provide the right incentives to AI development and innovation, while continuing to promote human creativity and innovation. The IPO also recognises that AI may soon be inventing and creating things in ways that make it impossible to identify the human intellectual input in the final invention or work. If or when inventive and creative AI exist, the IP system must be appropriate to secure benefits to human society, whilst also ensuring that patents and copyright work where AI is supportive of invention and creativity but not its sole author or inventor.
In response to the IPO’s Call for Views on AI and IP (the results of which were published in March 2021), questions were raised about the balance in the copyright system between the protection of human works and AI works. Some felt that copyright might present barriers in the development of AI itself, e.g., using works subject to copyright when training AI and in innovation and research. For patents, issues were identified that may act as a barrier to innovation as the use of AI systems increases.
In the light of this, the consultation will focus on three specific areas:
- copyright protection for computer-generated works without a human author; these are currently protected in the UK for 50 years, but should they be protected at all and if so, how should they be protected?
- licensing or exceptions to copyright for text and data mining, which is often significant in AI use and development; and
- patent protection for AI-devised inventions; should they be protected, and if so, how?
The consultation closes on 7 January 2022. To access the consultation and for details on how to respond, click here.