UCL Faculty of Laws


UCL Laws’ IBIL co-directors speak at WIPO/UKIPO conference - AI: decoding IP

19 June 2019

Professor Sir Robin Jacob, Dr Ilanah Fhima and Dr Daniela Simone were all panellists at the WIPO/UKIPO conference entitled ‘AI: decoding IP - Exploring the Commercial, Economic and Legal Implications’ held at the London Stadium on 18-19 June 2019.

The two-day conference was organised by the UK Intellectual Property and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to discuss the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on intellectual property (IP). Although the IP framework is intended to be technology neutral, and so should accommodate new technologies including AI without any need for change, the conference sought to question whether the IP framework is indeed flexible enough to accommodate what has been called ‘the fourth industrial revolution’.

Dr Ilanah Fhima considered the feasibility of using AI technology to facilitate the process of granting and enforcement rights. In particular, she looked at the potential issues which might arise when using AI tools to establish whether any two trade marks are likely to conflict because they are ‘confusingly similar’. This can be complex because it involves a balancing of the visual, phonetic and conceptual similarities between the marks, taken in conjunction with the degree of similarity of the goods or services specified, as well as other factors such as the nature of the goods and the distinctiveness of the marks. She also looked at where in the process AI should be used – to provide preliminary guidance, to aid decision makers or as autonomous decision maker.

Professor Sir Robin Jacob mused on the likely impact of AI on fundamental patent concepts, including the characteristics of the notional ‘skilled addressee’, their ‘common general knowledge’, ‘obviousness’ and ‘plausibility, and concluded that patent law was flexible enough to adapt. Potentially, human input would remain vital to filter through the many possible solutions which AI-based tools might identify and select those warranting further developments.

Dr Daniela Simone discussed AI in the context of copyright.  She identified how the current debate surrounding AI and authorship of AI outputs for the purposes of copyright protection served to emphasise the need for broader conversations about the manner in which copyright conceptualises complex creative processes, especially those involving contributions of different types by multiple contributors. These are themes which Dr Simone has explored in her recent monograph.

Find out more about AI: decoding IP