U.S. Government Seeks Public Comments On Updating Laws Governing Artificial Intelligence

November 12, 2019

By: Toby M.J. Butterfield

On October 30, 2019, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office called for public comments on how laws should be updated to address the growing use of “Artificial Intelligence” software systems. The government previously raised similar questions concerning who owns any patents in inventions generated by A.I. The agency now wants to answer similar questions in the law of copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and databases. Developing technological practices may therefore prompt revisions to all these laws in light of the answers received.

Until December 16, 2019, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office will accept comments on 13 detailed questions, starting with whether a work produced by an A.I. algorithm or process without the involvement of a natural person qualifies as a work of authorship protected by U.S. copyright law. Other questions concern whether existing law (i.e. the fair use doctrine) adequately addresses whether copyright works can legally be used to instruct A.I. systems, or whether authors must be recognized for such new uses of their works.  Whether works generated by A.I. are capable of being either new works or infringements of existing copyrights becomes a question of great significance.

Moses & Singer regularly advises its clients on use of A.I. systems, the use of data to improve such systems, and related ethical implications. We are available to consult on the impact of these new developments and to help formulate comments on these issues for submission to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.