The growth of artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the way the world does business. This growth is expected to jump exponentially as more people utilize generative AI technology, ushering in a new era of challenges and opportunities.
AI’s impact on intellectual property law presents novel questions as writers, artists, inventors, and others begin to use the technology in their creations. Once these creative outputs are generated, their human architects have sought to protect them using intellectual property methods. However, the rapid development of AI technology means there is little legal direction on what aspects of a work generated with the help of AI might be protected and how. Thus, it is important to recognize where potential issues may pop up and the best ways to protect artificial intelligence-generated intellectual property.
Artificial Intelligence and Content Generation
AI, particularly generative AI that uses natural language processing models, can help artists, writers, and others enhance creativity by autonomously producing diverse and contextually relevant material. Content generation with AI involves training models on vast datasets, enabling them to generate original and contextual content appropriate for the purpose indicated. AI’s ability to augment human creativity offers efficiency and inspiration in content creation processes. However, using AI to generate content brings a difficult question: if the creator wants to protect the work, what intellectual property methods apply, and will they protect AI-generated content?
The Current Legal Landscape
As AI systems become more autonomous and creative, the traditional boundaries of intellectual property law are being challenged. In the United States, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the U.S. Copyright Office have yet to fully establish clear guidelines concerning AI-created content or inventions. However, they generally recognize rights only for human authors and inventors. In addition, several lawsuits challenging AI’s use of human-generated work are in litigation. So what are the best ways to protect intellectual property rights connected to AI?
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Protecting AI-Driven Intellectual Property
Intellectual property encompasses various types of legal protections for creations of the mind. Despite a lack of clear legal direction in an ever-evolving landscape, here are some best practices for protecting intellectual property in AI applications.
Copyright law protects original artistic, literary, dramatic, and musical works and includes computer program code, compilations of data, and graphics. A copyright holder has the exclusive legal right to produce, reproduce, publish, or perform an original literary, artistic, dramatic, or musical work. Early signs from the U.S. Copyright Office indicate that while works generated by nonhumans cannot be copyrighted, any portion created by a human being is eligible for protection. Thus, filing for copyright is one of the best ways to protect AI-assisted works, as long as the filer is honest about what portions of the work are AI-generated and which are human-generated.
A trademark is unique and identifies the source of the goods or services it is associated with. A trademark can consist of a combination of letters, words, sounds, or designs that distinguish one company’s goods or services from those of another. However, marks and logos that are completely generated by AI are not eligible for trademark protection.
Patent law protects inventions. A patent holder has the exclusive right to make, use, and sell his or her invention in exchange for full and clear disclosure of how it works. In the U.S., an AI system cannot be an inventor, as patent law states that an inventor must be a natural person. However, if a human being has sufficient involvement in the creation of a work, then the output may be considered eligible for patent protection by naming the person as its inventor.
A trade secret is confidential business information that provides a competitive advantage, including formulas, processes, designs, patterns, or any information that has economic value due to its secrecy. Protecting AI-generated output through the trade secret route may be an option if the copyright and patent options are not available or viable options for the owner. Because trade secrets hinge on secrecy and not human generation, trade secrets do not need to be created by a human being to receive legal protection.
Contact an Experienced Intellectual Property Attorney
Intellectual property law is complicated enough, but dealing with the implications of AI brings entirely new challenges. If you are looking to protect your intellectual property and have questions about what you can protect, contact BrewerLong today. Our team of Florida intellectual property lawyers has over a decade of experience helping clients protect their creations, as well as fighting for the rights of intellectual property holders. At BrewerLong, every client receives dedicated and personalized attention that best meets their needs. To schedule a consultation, call our office or fill out our online contact form to get started.
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