AI-related patents... .
Among the key statistics in the recent WIPO report on artificial intelligence* (AI) AI-related patent families represent around 0.6% of all patent families (339,828 out of 59.3 million). Like ‘renewable energy’, AI-related patents span myriad classifications in each the patent classification systems (IPC, CPC, CCS...) but symptomatic of AI becoming integral to products, classification is eased by industrial application.
The integration of AI is also illustrated by the change in ratio of AI-related publications to patents, which has fallen from 8:1(articles to patents) in 2010 to 3:1 last year.
Generally AI-related patents reflect ‘narrow AI’ (AI systems performing individual tasks) and there is as yet no
precedent for ‘general intelligence’ (AI systems performing an intellectual task that could be undertaken
by the human brain or the hypothetical ability of a machine to surpass the human brain). The
dominant AI-technique - 89% of all filings - is machine learning, especially in life science patents (mainly
supervised learning, support vector machines, bio-inspired approaches and classification and
In most instances, products integrating the patent subject matter have not yet come to market and the
nature of AI related technologies makes it difficult to identify infringement as it may be challenging to
identify how AI has been embedded in a competitor’s product. Nevertheless, around 2% of AI-related
patents are the subject of current litigation or opposition. In terms of sectors, telecomms has the most cases,
followed by medical sciences, transportation, and business. Microsoft, Apple and Alphabet are the top
defendants, while Siemens, Daimler and Giesecke+Devrient the main defendants, and Samsung, LG
Corp. and Hyundai the main defendants to opposition.
The nature of AI related technologies makes it difficult to identify the infringement as it may be difficult to identify how it has been embedded in a competitor’s product so it will be interesting to follow the arguments.
* Please see 'WIPO Technology Trends 2019: Artificial Intelligence' (Geneva: World Intellectual Property Organization) available at intelligence
If code puts into effect a method described in a publication, is it an infringement of copyright?
Copyright protects the fixed expression of ideas, procedures, methods of operations and mathematical concepts - not the ideas, procedures, methods of operations, or mathematical concepts themselves.
Copyright is infringed when the copyright work (the article, the software, the graphical work etc) is reproduced in any material form (including 3D form of a 2D work), when copies of the copyright work are issued to the public, and/or when an adaptation is made of the copyright work (adaptation includes ‘translating’ a computer program into a different computer language or code etc) without the permission of the copyright owner.
The term ‘adaptation’ includes ‘derivative work’, that is a work that is based on or derived from an original copyright work and as such this principle extends to the ‘translation’ or ‘adaptation’ of text to computer code.
However, the area is complex: for example, is the code a reproduction of the original copyright work? or does creating the code entail a transformation? If it’s a transformation, to what extent is there any reliance on the original copyright work? Or is the derivative work so ‘transformative’ that it is a new work?
Also, how does one avoid inadvertently confusing the copyright in the first work (i.e. protection of the fixed expression of an idea) to the idea itself, that is the idea, concept, principle, or discovery behind or contained in the original copyright work?
There is also no copyright protection for expression which is incidental to the idea being expressed : i.e. there might only be one way to effect an instruction or express an idea, so the idea and the expression merge (i.e. there is no novelty in the expression), elements dictated by external factors e.g. specifications of apparatus (i.e. computer), compatibility requirements, compliance with standards, industry restraints.
Perhaps always be wary - if the code is ‘inspired’ by an article, make sure it’s transformative!
© QUEDO SARL. 2019. All rights reserved.
This information is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. The information was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, legal advice nor a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. QUEDO SARL is not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information.