AI & Intellectual Property: Towards an Articulated Public Domain


Publish Date:
July 27, 2019
Publication Title:
Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal (TIPLJ)
University of Texas
Journal Article Volume 28 Issue 3 Page(s) 297-341
  • Mauritz Kop, AI & Intellectual Property: Towards an Articulated Public Domain, 28 Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal (TIPLJ) 297 (2020).
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This article seeks to clarify the relation between AI and IP in the information society. It aims to critically examine our intellectual property framework at the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution. In that context, it contends that human authorship & inventorship remains the normative organ point of intellectual property law. Additionally, it argues that extending copyrights hinders innovation, cultural diversity and even fundamental freedoms. Adding extra layers to the existing rainbow of IP rights is not a good solution to balance the societal impact of technological progress. Legislative gaps can be remedied by contracts and generous application of fair use and the three-step-test. Finally, parts of the Roman multi-layered property paradigm can be relevant for AI. Building upon this framework, section VIII of the article includes a proposal for a new public domain model for AI Creations and Inventions that crossed the autonomy threshold: Res Publicae ex Machina (Public Property from the Machine).

The introduction of the legal concept of Public Property from the Machine is a Pareto improvement; many actors benefit from it while nobody -at least no legal person- will suffer from it.

For illustrative purposes, the article includes a human-machine collaboration example. The examined AI Assisted Creation (a sound recording of a musical work, which can be streamed online) does not qualify as Public Property from the Machine. The article also describes a pure AI Invention that does qualify as Public Property from the Machine and thus could be awarded with official PD mark status: a flu vaccine autonomously brewed by an AI called SAM.

This article describes the current legal framework regarding authorship and ownership of AI Creations, legal personhood, patents on AI Inventions, types of IP rights on the various components of the AI system itself (including Digital Twin technology), clearance of training data and data ownership. It examines whether the rationales and justifications of IP are applicable to AI from the perspective of the function of copyright. Besides that, the article presents ideas and policy suggestions on how the law ought to be understood or designed with regard to AI input and output. Laws that would facilitate an innovation optimum.

The main goal of this research is to contribute to the body of doctrinal knowledge by offering a relatively compact AI & IP overview analysis and in doing so, to provide some food for thought to interdisciplinary thinkers and policy makers in the IP, tech, privacy and freedom of information field. Because AI and the internet are without borders, the article makes these recommendations through the eyes of a global acquis of intellectual property, as being a set of universal principles that form the normative backbone of the IP system.