AI is front page news these days. As we have seen here on the Lens, AI can already organise our lock-down lives from the kitchen counter, produce new antibiotic compounds in the fight against bacteria and create eye-wateringly expensive artwork - the impact of AI technologies is being felt across an increasingly broad range of sectors.

Earlier this year, the European Commission (EC) unveiled its strategy for shaping Europe’s digital future, including its ambitious White Paper on AI, and now the European Parliament (EP) has published a draft report on IPRs for the development and deployment of AI technologies. Given the enormous innovative potential of AI, the draft report seeks to highlight that the EC has not yet considered the issue of IPRs in relation to AI technologies and their output, which are essential to encourage and protect innovation and creativity in the area.  

AI Development 

The EP believes the EU can be at the forefront of AI development if it adopts an operational regulatory framework (that is regularly assessed in the light of technological developments) and appropriate public policies, particularly in respect of training and financial support for research. The draft report stresses the importance of protecting IPRs in relation to AI to create legal certainty and build the trust needed to encourage investment in AI development. In particular, consideration must first be given to assessing patent law in the protection of AI technologies.

AI Deployment 

Meanwhile, questions are already being raised about the protection of technical and artistic creations generated by AI. For example, as we reported, the EPO recently refused two patent applications which named an AI machine as the inventor. The EP draft report states that while it would not be appropriate to give AI legal personality, certain works generated by AI could be regarded as capable of protection by traditional IPRs. This is sure to generate further comment, as while IPRs seek to reward creators, the role of human intervention remains fundamental to the programming of AI.

The holistic approach in the draft report is just the first step towards creating an operational legal framework for both the development and deployment of AI technologies. As this fascinating area develops you can access all of our commentary on AI here.