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Intellectual Property in the Era of Artificial Intelligence

by Bachir Abou Chakra - - Riyadh

Published: 01/01/1970

A decade ago, artificial intelligence (“AI”) was thought of as science fiction. Yet, AI has rapidly evolved and in the coming years the use of innovative AI, particularly in terms of content generation, will certainly grow to unimaginable heights.

This begs the question; what does the future hold for intellectual property (“IP”) with the onset of such innovations? How would this also affect the Middle East?

As IP arising from AI is a relatively new field, little is currently known on how AI developers should best protect their IP assets. Additionally, in the Middle East, there is no record of an information technology (IT) developer attempting to patent an AI invention. Moreover, because AI is under-regulated, concerned parties in this region may consequently risk losing some potentially valuable IP.

For all types of businesses in the Middle East two current areas of focus should be of prime concern: (a) AI’s individual IP potential for growth and expansion in several fields, and, (b) how copyright laws, or even patent laws, can apply to IT developers working on AI technology.


AI’s IP Potential

With the potential introduction of quantum computing, AI will even more rapidly evolve. While machines are far from attaining the level of human intelligence, through the use of quantum computing, AI may be able to self-improve and self-learn exponentially. With this, AI may be able to produce thousands of years of human intellectual work and may also be able to develop new technologies, ideas or innovations. This also brings about a number of issues around IP rights.

How would owners of AI technology be able to patent or copyright innovation driven by these machines? Who would be classified as the owner? What would happen if two machines developed similar concepts? These are all areas that IT developers and IP regulators will have to consider as AI technology evolves.


How Current IP Regulations Apply to AI

To further complicate matters, an AI’s software’s standalone algorithms and code are un-patentable in the GCC. Instead, IT developers must secure the copyright to newly written codes if they want to protect the IP in them.

Conversely, patentability around AI very much depends on the software’s functionality. In this respect, the software’s system or architecture within which the algorithms work together and what rules, operations and mechanisms apply would be at the core of the patent in question.


Looking into the Future

While uncertainty surrounds the application of IP on AI, protection strategies will evolve gradually as technology continues to develop.

With this, considerations will be made in terms of copyright, patent protection and trade secrets. This will enable developers and investors to understand the best routes to acquiring the most robust means of IP protection. However, at present, IP for AI technologies is still a complex, under-regulated and uncertain field.