Skip to content

Internet Explorer is no longer supported by this website.

For optimal browsing we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.


Leaping AI’s Legal Hurdles: Three Considerations for Businesses Piloting AI

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into various industries has unlocked immense potential for innovation and efficiency. However, amidst the AI revolution, businesses face complex legal challenges, particularly concerning intellectual property (IP) rights.

Trademark and Patent Concerns

AI-generated content may inadvertently incorporate trademarks or infringe upon existing patents of others without authorization.

Businesses must conduct thorough research to identify existing trademarks and patents to train AI tools to avoid incorporating materials protected by the IP rights of others. Additionally, regular monitoring of trademark and patent databases is recommended to stay updated on relevant registrations. Potential IP issues can be identified in a Freedom to Operate (FTO) analysis before launching any AI-related product or service. This involves assessing potential infringement risks, identifying existing patents and trademarks, and strategizing ways to mitigate these risks to avoid unwanted litigation or legal disputes.

AI patent ownership presents a nuanced landscape; when an AI system contributes to patentable inventions, the AI user may face challenges in being recognized as inventors. While AI neural networks have been credited with aiding in the creation of patentable systems and methods, they do not qualify as inventors under current patent law. The USPTO acknowledges the potential for AI-assisted inventions to be patentable. However, it emphasizes that significant human contribution is necessary for patent eligibility.

In other words, while AI may contribute to innovation, human involvement must be substantial to meet the requirements for patentability.

Copyright Issues in AI-generated Content

The emergence of AI-generated content introduces intricate copyright challenges, especially concerning the distinction between human and AI authorship. In the case of Thaler v. Perlmutter, an inventor contested the U.S. Copyright Office’s refusal to register a work solely created by AI. The court upheld the legal precedent that copyright protection is typically reserved for human creators.

AI-generated content may also pose risks of copyright infringement, as AI may inadvertently utilize copyrighted material in its output. To mitigate this risk, it’s essential to ensure AI tools are trained on legally sourced data and prioritize originality. Clear agreements and review processes should address ownership rights and responsibilities over AI-generated content.

For additional discussion on copyright and other issues with ChatGPT, read our July 2023 IP Tip of the Month.

Best Practices to Mitigate Legal Risks

There are numerous ways for businesses to mitigate their exposure to AI’s legal risks:

  • Develop clear usage guidelines for AI-generated content, emphasizing compliance with copyright, trademark, and patent laws, while training employees on relevant IP laws and foster a culture of legal awareness and responsibility.
  • Invest in AI platforms with built-in copyright filters and other legal compliance features.
  • Establish robust documentation procedures to track the sources of AI-generated content and demonstrate compliance with legal requirements.
  • Regularly review and update AI-generated content strategies to align with evolving legal standards and industry best practices.
  • Consider consulting with IP attorneys to assess legal risks and develop comprehensive risk mitigation strategies tailored to your business needs.

In conclusion, while AI presents transformative opportunities for innovation and creativity, businesses and creators must navigate complex legal landscapes to safeguard their intellectual property rights. Proactive measures, including clear guidelines, robust documentation, and legal consultation, are crucial for harnessing the benefits of AI while minimizing legal risks.

Category: Intellectual Property