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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)- Legal status and the future


The world is constantly evolving, and we have witnessed some major technical revolutions and some great technological ideas in the age of pandemics. Assessment of the efficacy of technical innovations from a legal perspective is hence, essential. This piece will talk about the possible metamorphosis of artificial intelligence into the world of Intellectual Property. Since Artificial Intelligence (AI) is evolving at such an instantaneous speed, this entreats in-depth scrutiny of the existing IP laws.

As of now, there are no provisions associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the course of Intellectual Property. However, there lies a substantial amount of involvement and correlation between the two that we will discuss later in this article. Presently, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going through extensive advancement in all parts of the world and has been coinciding with the ambit of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Henceforth, there is a dire need of acknowledging it to the system and amending some of the existing norms. 


The history of the word ‘Artificial Intelligence’ can be traced back to the year 1956 when it was first coined at Dartmouth college.[1]

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is essentially the intelligence produced by ‘machines’. For a clear and more sophisticated understanding, we can say that any intelligence that is opposed to the natural flow of intelligence demonstrated by ‘animals and living beings’ falls under the connotation of Artificial Intelligence.

The Intellectual Property (IP) is affiliated to any authentic invention of human intelligence such as artistic, literary, technical, or scientific creation. Primarily, these are the intangible properties that existed in the creator’s thought (idea) which is later converted to tangible (existing in reality) property. On the other hand, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) refer to the legal rights granted to the creator or founder to safeguard his invention or design for a certain period. IPR in India is rather new and still in its budding stage.

Today there are multiple examples of how human inventions and robotics evolved out of human intellect are continuously working towards creating new things and evolving new ideas out of their algorithm that is valuable for day-to-day life and these things are constantly making our life more comfortable. Discussions on discerning the precise legal entity concerning the ownership of rights for such innovations have reached an impasse.

Intellectual Property (IP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is a vital tool to safeguard and incentivize the innovations of the human intellect. Artificial intelligence has turned out to be a relatively new area of debate concerning laws such as; copyright and patent laws. Differentiating between actual human consciousness and artificial consciousness is often the central area of discussions involving Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). One of the prominent predicaments resides in determining the liability in cases of failures of such innovations. The WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) is constantly involved in discourses and actively trying to find solutions to set aside such problems.

The existing Intellectual Property (IP) laws are not competent to address issues regarding the identification of inventors and other violations when Artificial Intelligence (AI) is involved with creation. There are numerous challenges before the policymakers, and this has been a topic of continuous debate in the domain of lawmakers and experts.

Presently, there is no specific law governing the role of self-involvement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in innovations. However, there have been some legal developments regarding the topic over time. The United States consider human as copyright holders. The situation in the United States is also a challenging one. Fairly recently, The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) declined a petition involving the Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems and inventors. [2]

DABUS (an AI system that stands for “device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience”) created by Stephen Thaler has a long history in different jurisdictions.[3] Some of them are ongoing as well. The European Union maintains a similar stance as the United States. Many Patent courts have repeatedly declined to give the inventor status to Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems. But recently, South Africa has become the first country to grant patent status to DABUS.[4] Although, there are still some fusses regarding the decision around the world of experts. However, this shows the potential of AI systems and their integration with Intellectual Property (IP). Even the Australian courts have recently found out that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is capable of being an ‘inventor’. [5]

Other than these countries, we have seen Japan being highly involved with the workings of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems and their possible future as evident from the ‘AI Strategy 2019 AI for Everyone- People, Industries, Regions and Governments (2019)’.

Several countries and patent offices are taking cognizance of the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, however, the majority of them have not been able to turn things around.

India – Ownership and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

India is one of the major countries when we talk about technological advancement. India has an enormous population. And with such a tremendous population, there is immense commercial scope for the advent of tech companies in the country. Moreover, India is still in its developing phase. There is an adequate establishment of copyright and patent laws in the legal framework of the country. But, like many other countries, India also lacks a provision for the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

The concept of giving an inventor status to machines is still questionable and unfamiliar in the country. This comes from the implied and direct assumptions from the Copyright Act and the Patents Act of 1970, respectively.

Some of the provisions in the existing laws restrict the expansion of the idea of a creator. Thus, only humans can obtain protection under the existing laws in India.


There are a lot of challenges wherever Intellectual Property (IP) crosses the path of Artificial Intelligence (AI) established innovations regarding disclosure, copyright laws, definitions of inventor and owner, and violations. The current model in the majority of the world is not equipped well enough to answer such questions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going through monumental growth, and with an increase in complexity of the systems, the existing laws are unable to cope-up with the rapid pace of technological developments. However, the increasing cognition and new disclosures have reinvigorated this challenging process. For the time being, the conventional laws need to acknowledge the technology as soon as possible because the world will keep on developing and becoming more and more complex. There are organizations like WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) that are holding conversations to facilitate the Intellectual Property (IP) laws with the complex nature of artificial intelligence (AI). There is a noticeable demand for the formulation of Intellectual Property (IP) laws that can protect the products of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine innovation so technology can move forward.

[1] Rockwell Anyoha, The History of Artificial Intelligence, SCIENCE IN THE NEWS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY (Aug. 28, 2017),

[2] Tyler Sonnemaker, No, an artificial intelligence can’t legally invent something – only ‘natural persons’ can, says US patent office, BUSINESS INSIDER (Apr 30. 2020, 1:11 AM),

[3] Miguel Bibe, DABUS: the ‘natural person’ problem, INVENTA (Sep. 27, 2021),

[4] Meshandren Naidoo, In a world first. South Africa grants a patent to an artificial intelligence system, QUARTZ MEMBERSHIP (Aug. 9, 2021),

[5] Rebecca Currey & Jane Owen, In the Courts: Australian Court finds AI systems can be “inventors”, WIPO INTERNATIONAL (Sept 2021),

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