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METI’s draft report says patents for items created by AI belong to humans

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) released a report on April 17 on how the intellectual property rights system will deal with the Fourth Industrial Revolution including the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Regarding items created by AI, the report says that patents will be granted to humans as before, citing their heavy involvement at this stage. METI will also consider establishing a legal system that includes protective measures for the sake of preventing data from being stolen.


METI will soon release the draft report, aiming to enhance the competitiveness of Japanese companies by improving the intellectual property rights system ahead of the promotion of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. METI will also incorporate the report into the government’s new growth strategy.


The existing intellectual property rights system assumes that the items being protected were invented by humans. Attention has therefore been focused on the ownership of the intellectual property rights of items created or invented by AI that has learned a certain amount of data. The draft report says that the existing law is sufficient for protecting intellectual property rights and that “the concept of the system will be reviewed” when the possibility of AI creating things on its own is expected to become a reality, leaving room for future discussions.


As for the handling of data through the Internet of Things (IoT), METI will look into revising the Unfair Competition Prevention Law. The law will be revised to make it possible to seek damages and request injunctions against the illegal use of data.


METI will also consider introducing a mechanism for the government to intervene in and determine appropriate usage fees when discussions over patent disputes become stalled, on account of their significant impact on society.

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