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UK Government Publishes Response to Consultation on the Impact of AI on IP Rights

25 March 2021

Following an open consultation calling for views on the impact of AI on IP rights, the UKIPO has now issued the results of the consultation together with the government’s response in some key areas. The UKIPO issued the consultation at a time when questions regarding the development of AI systems and whether the IP system is keeping up with these developments were increasing. The responses to the consultation and the government’s opinions on these topics therefore provide an interesting insight into potential changes in the IP system in the future.

The consultation was divided into four topics: 1) the aims of the patent system 2) AI as an inventor 3) conditions for patent grant and 4) infringement. For the majority of the questions within these topics, the consultation received varying views and the government provides general comments in response. For these questions, no particular action is identified by the government beyond keeping abreast of future developments and potentially more specific consultations in the future.

However, on one topic the government intends to take more specific action. The topic in question is obtaining patent protection for AI related inventions, particularly with respect the exclusions related to patentability. Here, some of the responses to the consultation highlighted the UKIPO’s differing (typically more strict) approach to the patentability of computer implemented inventions such as those in the AI field when compared to the EPO. The government’s comments highlight this and state that enhanced guidelines regarding patent exclusion practice for AI inventions will be published. In addition, the UKIPO will review its practice to identify any differences in outcome for AI patent applications filed at the UKIPO and EPO. The UKIPO’s different approach with respect to computer implemented inventions is well known and any review or further guidance regarding the approach should be beneficial to applicants.

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