IPSA Updates 2: Can we cope with AI?

Contributed by: Tatiana Wong

Edited by: Benjamin Ho, Sze Yuan Lim, and Lenon Ong of the IPSA Core Team

It is indubitable that with the technological leaps in the field of artificial intelligence (“AI”), the intertwining of intellectual property issues and AI presents novel solutions that will challenge existing legal frameworks. Living in a modern age where AI technology is growing (with over 180,000 AI inventions publicised in slightly less than a decade), there is value in intellectual property (“IP”) laws recognising the nuances and complexities in AI. In this edition of IPSA updates, our member Tatiana Wong muses and predicts that it will only be a matter of time where disputes concerning AI technology and IP become more numerous; this includes, inter alia, patents in an ever-changing AI algorithm, IP theft, and ownership of data generated by AI systems.

In this vein, most recently and closer to home, the Intellectual Property of Singapore (IPOS) approved an AI patent filed by Alibaba Group Holding, in 3 months – a world record. This expedited process, made possible under the new IPOS’ Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence (AI^2), facilitates the easier and quicker reception of AI inventions to Singapore, and strengthens the country’s reputation as a renowned IP-hub for cutting-edge technologies in the digital economy. Indeed, this blazing speed at which the AI patent was conferred was lauded by Mr Benjamin Bai, Vice President and Chief IP Counsel of Ant Financial (an affiliate of the Alibaba Group), who said, “Companies looking to implement AI solutions globally have grown exponentially. Against this backdrop, the speed at which a patent can be granted is critical. Singapore plays a pivotal role as it facilitates our entry into markets of our interest rapidly. We applaud the efficiency and speed of the Singapore’s IP office, and look forward to filing more patent applications in Singapore under this initiative.” (Source: IPOS)

This expedited process which provides early certainty in the application of patents, may however, be a double-edged sword as well. IPSA member Tatania Wong proposes that the influx of expedited patent applications may require extensive resources for implementation – definitely, with the foreseeably huge variety of AI patents, this would not be unexpected. Hence, the Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Bill passed in August 2019 was timely to ensure that the IP regime in Singapore continues to support innovative and creative activities in Singapore, as well as to strengthen Singapore’s position as a hub for international IP dispute resolution.

For more information on the Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Bill, read IPSA’s short summary here.

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