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Who Owns AI Art? New Guidance Impacts IP Rights in Entertainment

by Omni Law Admin
Feb 23, 2024
IP Rights in Entertainment

Entertainment industry executives, studios and production companies have been utilizing artificial intelligence in creative projects like scriptwriting and music composition. The entertainment and media attorneys at Omni Law P.C. have been keeping up with the everchanging nature of entertainment, AI, and the impacts.

AI-generated content could start showing up everywhere, including the movies, shows and music that have always been crafted by hand. Now that technology has reached the point where we can ask a program to generate content, the possibilities are endless. This can pose dangers and unclear expectations. If you are unsure how to navigate these issues, call our firm at (323) 300-4184 and allow us to walk you through it.

Which bears the question of who is monitoring this evolution and protecting the rights of the inventors. The question was who exactly owns the intellectual property rights in these machine-assisted creative works? New guidance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is bringing some clarity. A new guidance was issued that formally determines inventorship for inventions with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

In a simple overview, the guidance determined inventors on US patent applications must be natural persons. AI systems cannot be listed as inventors. This seems obvious, but further guidance indicated that:

  • Inventions created by humans with the help of AI are still eligible for patent protection and the human inventor(s) who contributed significantly to the conception of the invention can be listed.
  • There is no test for determining if a human’s contribution is significant enough to qualify them as an inventor. Factors like contributing to the conception of the invention, making a significant contribution, and doing more than just explaining concepts to the AI system should be considered.
  • Humans who merely recognize a problem, provide a goal, reduce the invention to practice, oversee the AI system, or have “intellectual domination” over the AI system are not necessarily inventors. But humans who design, build, train or provide the essential building blocks for the AI system may qualify.
  • Inventorship should be determined on a claim-by-claim basis. Each claim must have at least one natural person inventor who contributed significantly.
  • The inventorship guidance applies to utility patents, design patents and plant patents.

While AI may now participate in entertainment brainstorms, human creators still drive – and therefore own – the intellectual property the USPTO decides to protect. As machine-learning permeates IP-rich industries, its role in inventing remains limited.

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