Following on from the Call for views on AI and IP conducted by the UK IPO in the last quarter of 2020 (see our blog posts here and here), and as part of the UK AI National Strategy, the UK government has launched a consultation on AI and IP. This consultation targets the more contentious areas arising from the earlier Call for Views and focuses on copyright in works made by AI; text and data mining using copyright material; and patents for inventions devised by AI.

The consultation states that any measures we put in place should: 1) Encourage innovation in AI technology and promote its use for the public good; 2) Preserve the central role of intellectual property in promoting human creativity and innovation; and 3) Be based on the best available economic evidence.

Copyright protection for computer generated works without a human author currently have protection for a lessor period of 50 years under a specific provision concerning computer generated works in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1987. The UK is relatively unique in having a specific provision dealing with these, with most jurisdictions having no specific rule concerning computer generated works. The government consultation asks if such works should be protected at all, and if so whether under copyright, or some other mechanism and what the scope and duration of such a right should be.

In respect of text and data mining (TDM), the IPO’s Call for views received responses which ranged from advocating for a complete copyright exception for AI training, through to responses which advocated for greater protection for copyright owners whose works might be used in AI training. The consultation asks for responses on five options:

  • do nothing;
  • improve the licensing environment for TDM;
  • extend the current TDM exception to copyright (which applies to  non-commercial use only) to cover commercial research and databases;
  • adopt a completely open TDM exception for any purpose, but with rights holders being able to opt out; or
  • go the full way and create a fully open TDM exception with no right of opt out.

The patent questions follow the recent Thaler/DABUS Court of Appeal decision over AI inventorship (discussed in our blog post here) – which decision was given the day before the UK National AI Strategy was published – and ask whether legislative changes are needed to account for this possibility. The options for which contributions are sought are: do nothing; expand the concept of “inventor” to include humans responsible for AI systems which devise an invention; allow patent applications to identify AI as an inventor; or  protect AI-devised inventions through a new type of protection other than patents.

The consultation is open until 7 January 2022 and responses can be provided here.


Peter Dalton
Peter Dalton
Senior Associate - London
+44 20 7466 2907
Rachel Montagnon
Rachel Montagnon
Professional Support Consultant, London
+44 20 7466 2217