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Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property: A Conundrum

There’s no doubt that next to China, all things Industry 4.0 was peppered in every conversation at IP Week @ SG 2018. Not until recently, intellectual property (IP) rights was a rather blasé affair chock-full with paper work. These days, patent search companies have access to artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies which revolutionise the process.

For example, trademark search has become easier. Instead of laboriously sifting through a database or hiring an attorney to do the groundwork for you, public electronic databases are now commonplace. At the IP Market Place, exhibitors showcased how they used AI to perform patent research and intelligence services.

A Japanese innovation company, for example, provides an advanced cloud-based searching service for registered Japanese trademarks. For trademark applicants, no expertise is needed to judge if the proposed trademark image has already been used. Similarly, trademark examiners can bypass the once arduous task thanks to the functions the AI software provides.

At the booth, a helpful sales rep treated me to a live demonstration using the example of a cartoon panda. With a simple drag and drop function, the screen populates with a list of lookalike trademarks in the order of the degree of similarity. A hybrid search engine function allows examiners and applicants to make comparisons with only a selected part of the image using the crop and rotate/flip features.

If the convenience wasn’t enough already, individuals can use their mobile phones to take a shop of their proposed trademark and conduct a similarity test on the go. Truly a splendid device for SMEs who have neither the time or money.

However, the vendors themselves appeared to have a love-hate relationship with the technologies they themselves use. The issue isn’t potential glitches or shortcomings of the technology. Legal practitioners, accounting professionals and patent search analysts all deal one major problem: getting a good grip on the technology. This means valuating the technology that makes up the product using institutionalised accounting standards, tracing the technology’s origins, or fundamentally codifying the processes and results of products which use machine learning.

The conundrum is a real one.

Although tech-based solutions have been offered, they are still insufficient to match the pace of digital transformation. From speaking to two professionals from patent search companies and informed by the forums, I found out that blockchain technologies to identify infringements were only chipping away at the surface of the problem. The advancements are a source of distress.

The first difficulty was the inability to value the intellectual property of the technology. Unlike machines of the past, it was relatively easy to pinpoint the cost of the materials and talent used to create the product. Accountants relied on a universally agreed standard.

However, technology produced today has an unpredictable value. Ironic as it is, given the use of AI to generate predictable results, the issue is that the value of the technology appreciates under the certain conditions. For example, machine learning software improves its performance over time. The more data the machine is fed, the more predictable and accurate the outcomes are. One legal practitioner emphasised that learning does not equal results. Thus, the product it originally was is cannot be compared to the product it will be become.

A continuation of the first point, AI technology has multiple applications in various industries. However, when applying for a patent, it does not fall under a unique AI category. Surprisingly, some AI technologies are not granted patents. Although the results might be unique, there was no real invention since AI was merely applied. The same legal practitioner believed that the while blockchain might be useful to identity infringement, technologies which use blockchain might encounter an increased number of law suits in the future solely because the infringement is derided. Hence, even if a company filed a complaint, it might not be able to receive the compensation or remediation it sought. A trade secrets protection might be more useful.

Thirdly, the novelty of the machine might not match the hype surrounding it. This boils down to market forces and branding – very irrational human behaviour. Venture capitalists and angel investors pour monies into companies based on market sentiments and optimism. Some brands perform better than others, even if the product offers no significant value-add to the current tech landscape.

The dynamics of Industry 4.0 works out to be every economist’s nightmare. Although it has long been understood that human behaviour could not be attributed a price point, the uprooting of traditional structure severely disturbs legal and business processes.

As long as a clear and defined methodology exists, professionals at the cusp of digital transformation and intellectual property will scratch their heads. About the value of intangible assets, talent, and the vague vanguard of ethics. One thing’s for sure, constantly evolving is the only way forward.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.