On October 19, 2023, the U.S. Copyright Office announced in the Federal Register that it will consider a proposed exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (“DMCA”) anti-circumvention provisions which prohibit the circumvention of any technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works. The exemption would allow those researching bias in artificial intelligence (“AI”) to bypass any technological measures that limit the use of copyrighted generative AI models.
On October 30, 2023, the G7 Leaders published a Statement on the Hiroshima Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) Process (the “Statement”). This follows the G7 Summit in May, where the leaders agreed on the need to address the risks arising from rapidly evolving AI technologies. The Statement was accompanied by the Hiroshima Process International Code of Conduct for Organizations Developing Advanced AI Systems (the “Code of Conduct”) and the Hiroshima Process International Guiding Principles for Advanced AI Systems (the “Guiding Principles”).
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently affirmed a decision by the U.S. Copyright Office (“USCO”) in which the USCO denied an application to register a work authored entirely by an artificial intelligence program. The case, Thaler v. Perlmutter, challenging U.S. copyright law’s human authorship requirement, is the first of its kind in the United States, but will definitely not be the last, as questions regarding the originality and protectability of generative AI (“GenAI”) created works continue to arise. The court in Thaler focused on the fact that the work at issue had no human authorship, setting a clear rule for one end of the spectrum. As the court recognized, the more difficult questions that will need to be addressed include how much human input is required to qualify the user as the creator of a work such that it is eligible for copyright protection.
GitHub, acquired by Microsoft in 2018, is an online repository used by software developers for storing and sharing software projects. In collaboration with OpenAI, GitHub released an artificial intelligence-based offering in 2021 called Copilot, which is powered by OpenAI’s generative AI model, Codex. Together, these tools assist software developers by taking natural language prompts describing a desired functionality and suggesting blocks of code to achieve that functionality. OpenAI states on its website that, Codex was trained on “billions of lines of source code from publicly available sources, including code in public GitHub repositories.”
On 27 April 2023, the European Commission (the “Commission”) proposed a new regulation on the licensing of standard essential patents (the “Proposal”). The objective of the Proposal is to facilitate standard essential patent (“SEP”) licensing negotiations by providing clarity on several aspects: transparency as to who owns SEPs and which SEPs are essential; transparency on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (“FRAND”) terms and conditions; and dispute resolution for the determination of FRAND terms.
In a unanimous decision published on May 18, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated two of Amgen’s patents for its cholesterol drug, Repatha, making it more difficult for patentees to obtain broadly worded patents. The case – Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi – involves a dispute between the two pharmaceutical companies over the “enablement” requirement of 35 U.S.C. Section 112, specifically how much a patent must disclose in order to “enable” a skilled person to make and use the claimed invention without undue trial and error. The Supreme Court held that Amgen failed to provide enough detail to recreate the full scope of its claimed invention, and that if a patent claims an entire class of processes, machines, manufactures or compositions of matter then the patent must include sufficient information that enables a person skilled in the art to make and use the entire class.
What You Need To Know
- From 1 June 2023, a new EU unitary patent system (UPS) will become fully effective. A unitary patent (UP) is a European patent granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) to which, at the patent owner’s request, unitary effect is given for the territory of the EU Member States that have ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement – currently, 17 EU Member States. UPs give patent owners uniform protection across participating EU Member States, removing the need for national validation procedures as well as individual national enforcement in each EU Member State.
On 16 March 2023, the US Copyright Office (“USCO”) published guidance on the registration of works containing AI-generated content. The USCO’s policy statement was released against the backdrop of the proliferation of generative AI tools which are able to create content based on user prompts. The USCO ultimately concluded that the “authorship” requirement of US copyright law refers to “human authorship” (in line with prior case law) and appears to reject the extension of copyright to works generated with the aid of AI technology outside of the user’s control.