Mon to Fri 08h00 to 16h30 ( UTC +2)

Mon to Fri 08h00 to 16h30 ( UTC +2)

Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain | How will these impact IP law?

  1. Home
  2. /
  3. IPLive - welcome to our blog on IP commercialisation
  4. /
  5. Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain | How will these impact IP law?

Published Date: November 14, 2017

Artificial Intelligence and IP Law

A recently published White Paper titled “Artificial Intelligence, Human Expertise – How technology and trade mark experts work together to meet today’s IP challenges” is definitely worth a read for anyone interested in AI and how it may effect IP law in the years to come (published by Compumark and Clarivate Analytics).

A few key points from the report worth considering:

  • The paper provides a balanced view in that it is not in any way a doomsday report forecasting the end of the IP lawyer through death-by-robot. Compumark’s Peter de Bruyne emphasises that the goal is to complement and not replace human analysts:

“We try to combine what AI does best with what the trade mark analyst does best.” 

  • AI and machine learning will result in a change of landscape for IP law and IP lawyers:

“AI offers important advantages for trade mark research, automating complex cognitive tasks to improve search and watch results, while dramatically improving speed and efficiency.

  • A partial state of automation is what you need to give yourself a competitive advantage:

“The next few years will likely favour lawyers who can use partial states of automation to outperform their peers.” Kingsley Martin  from KMStandards

  • AI can free up the time for the IP lawyer to focus on what you are really good at according to Compumark’s Kathy van der Herten:

“Technology plays a key role in culling down massive amounts of information and displaying it in a way that allows human experts to make accurate decisions quickly, with great confidence.” 

Blockchain and IP Law

Much like how AI will impact IP law: I would advise that you don’t bet against blockchain technology significantly impacting IP law in the next decade.

How would this work? First a brief definition of blockchain from our esteemed friends at The Economist:

“The blockchain is a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls. The participants in a blockchain system collectively keep the ledger up to date: it can be amended only according to strict rules and by general agreement.” 

If you look at this definition of blockchain, it has the following qualities:

  • shared, trusted public ledger;
  • everyone can inspect;
  • no single user control;
  • a collective commitment to keeping the ledger up to date;
  • amended only according to strict rules and general agreement; and
  • keeps track of all transactions.

We can all agree that these are requirements for the kind of IP Registries that we would like to see. IP Registries that are open and decentralised with integrity at every step. This also means that the database is free to inspect.

The potential for blockchain technology is not merely for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Blockchain technology provides a means to create cheap, tamper-proof public databases for a variety of purposes. How could this work? According to the Economist:

“A group of vetted participants within an industry might instead agree to join a private blockchain, say, that needs less security. Blockchains can also implement business rules, such as transactions that take place only if two or more parties endorse them, or if another transaction has been completed first.”

IP Registries worldwide largely depend on the maintenance and integrity of its databases. However, the cost of maintaining these databases, the efficiency of how they are run and the integrity of these databases require solutions.

The IP Law fraternity has thousands of “vetted participants” (its attorneys) which are linked to industry bodies and the requirements for IP rights are underpinned by sophisticated legal principles. These participants all have the requisite skills and interest in developing and maintaining IP registries.

At IPLive we relish the prospect of seeing the IP Registries moving over to blockchain technology and are considering the wonderful opportunities that this would present.

by Nic Rosslee

Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

How can we help you?

We have offices in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, please contact your nearest office for any legal enquiry or assistance.