AI and IP: Building a Research Agenda

Patrick Goold

Artificial intelligence poses new questions for intellectual property (IP) law. Can machines be inventors for purposes of patent law? Do creative works produced by AI deserve copyright protection? Is new legislation required to govern AI creativity? Courts, IP offices, and legislators in multiple jurisdictions are considering these questions.

By now, there is a well-developed and comprehensive academic literature which analyses the interface between IP and AI. The extant literature provides thorough legal and conceptual analyses of whether machine learning algorithms can be inventors or authors for the purposes of patent and copyright law. And while there will always be room for further analysis of such questions as technology progresses, there is diminishing marginal returns to such inquiries at this point in time.

The  AI and IP Bulding a Research Agenda project asked the question: What is next for IP and AI research? The project’s aim was to identify issues relating to AI’s impact on IP law that remain under analysed in academic literature. The project’s objective was to produce a list of novel research topics and questions (both doctrinal and interdisciplinary). By identifying potential areas for future research, the project intends to inspire and guide future researchers, particularly PhD students and junior researchers in the fields of law and related subjects. Completing such research will create new knowledge to the benefit of lawmakers and wider society. Such research agendas have proved valuable outside of legal studies.

To create a research agenda for the field of AI and IP, the City Law School hosted the AI and IP workshop on March 18th, 2022. The workshop brought together a range of senior and junior researchers in the field of IP law and AI. Prior to the event, the workshop organisers identified approximately 150 research outputs (including journal articles, monograph books, edited collections, and reports) relating to the relationship between AI and IP. The research outputs served as a literature review and were circulated among the project participants prior to the event. The workshop provided a venue in which the research outputs were considered, and gaps in the research identified. It was organised by the Centre for Creativity enabled by AI and the City University Emerging Technologies Research Network.

The following report summarises the conclusions arising from the workshop. After introducing the project participants, the report provides a thematic summary of topics and questions related to AI and IP that remain under analysed in academic literature. These questions are loosely grouped into three categories: doctrinal and legal process questions; technical and empirical questions; and economic, philosophical, and sociological questions. These are followed by a list of research outputs considered by the project participants. Together, the report identifies a range of issues that remain under-examined in the literature, and which could provide fruitful avenues of research in the next five years.

Cover Image: A Recent Entrance to Paradise (2012) by DABUS, compliments of Dr. Stephen Thaler. All rights reserved.

Cover Image: A Recent Entrance to Paradise (2012) by DABUS, compliments of Dr. Stephen Thaler. All rights reserved.


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