IPOPHL: 4IR reshaping views on IP ownership, protection

IP to become increasingly relevant as 4th IR tech advances


The onset of 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) - the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and the internet of things - has given rise to both challenges and opportunities in the protection, distribution, and production of creative and audio-visual content.

These issues were at the forefront of the discussions at the 2018 Philippines-Korea Copyright Forum, a joint undertaking of IPOPHL with the Korea Copyright Commission (KCC), themed the 4th Industrial Revolution: Threat or Opportunity for Copyright-Based Industries. 

“In the field of intellectual property during the 4th IR, the following questions have to be addressed: who owns the copyright to the work? The answer would be easy if it were humans who did the work. But where the author is a computer program, would it own the copyright? Now, what if the artificial intelligence were to create a patentable invention? Would the answer remain the same?,” IPOPHL Director General Josephine R. Santiago said, during the opening remarks. 

“Despite these questions, what is clear is that there is a system that protects intellectual creations that is in place. Nevertheless policy considerations would have to be revisited upon many points in light of the 4IR,” Atty. Santiago added. 

“Now we have AI-created works..Are we going to give authorship rights to AI? are we going to then consider AI as a legal entity or as a corporate entity or a corporate person? We have to make sure our institutional regime don’t hinder [technological] development,” added Korea Copyright Commission Chairman Mr. Lim Won Sun.

Among the salient issues is the blurring of the lines of ownership of created works- a principle key to copyright. Copyright is an intellectual property which gives an exclusive right to authors over how their works are manipulated, distributed, and any way used. 

Artificial intelligence technology being able to create literary and artistic works, has compelled the question of ownership of copyright to the work.

Now with the big data serving not just as a powerful means for user analytics, but also as a tool for search and mining applications, there has been a wave of mass digitisation of information (including written content) that can be used as dataset for user queries. The Google Library Project, for example, embarked on a mass digitisation of books from libraries worldwide and integrated a user-search tool with the aim to aid their research. 

In these situations of mass digitisation, questions of fair use of copyrighted works arise and new schemes for licensing are pondered as the balance of democratising information through technology and securing copyright owners’ right to their work is being sought. 

Related to the collection of big data, is the IoT, the system of interconnection of multiple computing devices with the ability to exchange data over the internet. Everyday devices are enabled with data exchange and internet connectivity, from a watch to the kitchen appliance, to the car. 

These multiple avenues of content learn from the user - they present content specific to the user’s preference, and may ease out traditional forms of publishing whose content is not user-driven. 

The IPOPHL, however, sees the 4th IR as an opportunity more than a threat as the same technologies can be used in making the administration of intellectual property  more efficient.  As patent information and libraries are digitised, AI can aid in search of prior art, and become tools for patent examiners to speed up research; and to facilitate litigation for IP cases.

Moreover, as the 4th IR technology progresses, demand for protection is bound to increase.

“From the software, to the actual device carrying the software, to the business created from it, intellectual property can come in in terms of copyright, or patent, or a trademark. IP will be at the center of this 4th Industrial Revolution,” Director General Santiago added.