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WIPO Director General Opens WIPO Conversation on IP and AI: Third Session

November 4, 2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping drive the future of innovation and a multilateral and multi-disciplinary policy approach should strive to ensure that AI benefits all countries and helps bridge capacity gaps, WIPO Director General Daren Tang said in opening a meeting on IP and AI policy.

The “WIPO Conversation on Intellectual Property (IP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI): Third Session” was held Wednesday, November 4, 2020, in a virtual session with 1,573 registered participants from 133 countries.

Video: WIPO Director General Daren Tang Opened the third session of the WIPO Conversation on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence.

In welcoming the participants, Mr. Tang highlighted the impactful role of AI in the global economy.

“The future of innovation is being driven by new, emerging technologies such as AI, advanced robotics and quantum computing,” said Mr. Tang, who cited the WIPO Technology Trends Report 2019 showing that nearly 340,000 AI-related patent application have been filed and over 1.6 million scientific publications published since AI emerged in the 1950s. 

“As AI and computers drive greater interconnectivity across regional and global borders, it becomes even more important to strive for a multilateral, multi-disciplinary approach” to any policy response, said Mr. Tang.

Mr. Tang said that AI touches the heart of the existing IP system and poses a significant number of interrelated issues, requiring a horizontal approach. Questions raised by AI should not be looked at in silos of individual IP rights, but holistically across the entire IP system, he said.

The WIPO Conversation on IP and AI, begun with a first session in September 2019, is designed to bring together the widest audience and diverse views in an open, inclusive process. A goal of the Conversation is to help to bridge the existing information gap between AI players and regulators and to build broad awareness of the issues in the fast moving and complex field, said Mr. Tang.

“AI-driven innovation and creation has to benefit all countries irrespective of whether they are at the forefront of adopting AI technologies,” said Mr. Tang.

The Conversation was chaired by Ambassador François Rivasseau, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva.

The agenda focused on questions of definitions related to AI, how AI will impact the trademark area, how policy can help bridge the capacity gap in AI and the policy implications of the use of AI in IP administration.

A keynote address was given by the United Kingdom’s Amanda Solloway, a Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.

“A strong AI sector needs a strong IP framework,” she said. “We realize that depends on understanding its commercial, economic, legal and social implications.”

“We need to look for answers internationally, across borders, as we are doing today, because as we all know, we are living in a global world,” said Ms. Solloway.

“There's no better forum for these international discussions on IP than WIPO, the only international organization focused solely on intellectual property: The guardian of international IP and home to the energy and expertize we need to help us find the right answers. So I'm really pleased that WIPO has been doing such fantastic work to help move this conversation forward,” she said.

Background: IP and AI

The First Session of the WIPO Conversation on IP and AI took place in September 2019, bringing together member states and other stakeholders in an open forum to discuss the impact of Al on IP policy.

WIPO subsequently developed for public consultation a compendium of the most-pressing questions likely to face IP policy makers from the impact of Al on IP policy. The paper received more than 250 submissions and comments from a wide global audience.

A Revised Issues Paper was published in May 2020 taking into account the comments and formed the basis of the Second Session of the Conversation held in July.

AI is increasingly driving important developments in technology and business. It is being used across a range of industries, from telecommunications to autonomous vehicles.

Increasing stores of big data and advances in affordable high computing power are fueling AI’s growth. AI has a significant impact on the creation, production and distribution of economic and cultural goods and services. Since one of the main aims of the IP system is to stimulate innovation and creativity in the economic and cultural systems, AI intersects with IP in a number of ways.

In January 2019, WIPO issued a study that surveyed the landscape of AI innovation. The “WIPO Technology Trends” report provides a common information base on AI for policy and decision makers in government and business, as well as concerned citizens across the globe.

WIPO then spearheaded the series of consultations with member states and other stakeholders to better understand the intersection between IP policy and AI.