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Artificial Intelligence and IP: Consultation on Copyright and Patents Legislation

The government is today launching a consultation on how the copyright and patent system should deal with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This consultation is seeking evidence and views on: 

  • the extent to which patents and copyright should protect inventions and creative works made by AI   

  • measures to make it easier to use copyright-protected material in AI development, supporting innovation and research

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a transformative technology and is already revolutionising many areas of our lives. It can be a powerful tool for scientists, entrepreneurs, and artists, enabling new inventions and creations. 

The Government wants the UK to be at the forefront of this revolution, to encourage innovation in AI technology and promote its use for the public good. At the same time, we want to preserve the central role of intellectual property (IP) in promoting human creativity and innovation.

The Government has previously sought views on the interaction of AI and IP and the impact of AI on the IP framework.

Questions were raised about the balance in the copyright system between the protection of human works and AI works, and the use of copyright material in machine learning. For patents, issues were identified that could stifle innovation as the use of AI systems increases. 

We are now seeking evidence and views a on range of options for possible changes to patent and copyright law which may address these issues.

The Consultation is led by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), and is one of the Government’s commitments within its recently launched Innovation Strategy to help ensure the UK’s IP environment continues to lead the world.

Science Minister George Freeman said:

As one of the most digitally advanced economies, we want to create the best environment for artificial intelligence companies and innovators by ensuring our copyright and patent system is a catalyst for them to thrive, making the UK the natural home for ground-breaking research and development.
Our intellectual property regime is one of the most highly-regarded in the world. This consultation – led by the Intellectual Property Office – will help ensure we keep pace with global change, matching our shared ambitions to make the UK an innovation nation.

Digital Minister Chris Philp said:

Making sure our rules around intellectual property and technology are fit for the digital age is at the heart of our new AI Strategy, which aims to cement the UK’s place as a global AI superpower.
Through this review we will make sure we can encourage investment in technology and innovation so we can all benefit from the brightest and best creative ideas of tomorrow.

The IPO’s Chief Executive Tim Moss said:

The UK is considered one of the best IP environments in the world. To help keep it that way we are looking ahead to embrace the challenges that AI brings, and the opportunities to unleash innovation’s potential. An accessible, efficient and balanced IP system is a powerful tool in helping innovation and creativity to flourish.
The technology that human innovation has created has evolved. That technology can now act in the innovation process, and it is already clear that the role of AI will become increasingly prominent across different industries and wider society. Your views will inform the discussions that will help shape our future, and through this consultation it is vital that we hear them.

AI Council Chair, Tabitha Goldstaub said:

The AI Council welcomes the launch of today’s consultation on copyright and patents legislation. Thinking about the challenges AI poses to IP and ensuring people are rewarded appropriately for their inventiveness and creativity is vital for innovation to flourish. The AI Council looks forward to supporting an open dialogue and exchange of ideas between industry, academia and government on this important topic.

The consultation will last for 10 weeks, ending on 7 January 2022.

Further information about the consultation and how to respond are published on GOV.UK.

Notes to Editors

  • intellectual property (IP) rights such as patents and copyright protect inventions and creations of the mind. They reward people for their inventiveness and creativity. And they encourage investment in technology and culture for the benefit of us all

  • last year, we published a call for views and Government Response on AI and IP. We sought views on whether the IP framework still fit for purpose in relation to AI

  • in developing options for possible changes to the law, we will ensure that any measures implemented: encourage innovation in AI technology; promote its use for the public good; preserve the central role of intellection property in promoting human creativity and innovation; are based on the best available economic evidence

  • the National AI Strategy, building on the achievements under the AI Sector Deal, will secure the UK’s position amongst the global AI superpowers. Government wants to ensure the UK continues to be a world leading location for research, development, commercialisation and deployment of AI. Our work on AI and IP supports this ambition

  • the UK’s Innovation Strategy, launched in July 2021, is the starting point for the government’s long-term vision of how the UK will cement its role as a global leader in innovation and deliver the target of research and development (R&D) investment at 2.4% of GDP. This strategy recognises a strong IP system, that protects and allows for a return on investment in ideas, creates the confidence on which this long-term and sustainable success is built

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