New technologies have always thrown up new questions about Intellectual Property. Whether that's the printing press revolution, the invention of recorded music, or the advent of the internet. Artificial Intelligence is no different. Over the past ten years AI technologies have accelerated. I've seen for myself the incredible impact they're having across a huge range of sectors – from medicine to manufacturing.
Intellectual Property rewards people for creativity and innovation. It is crucial to the proper functioning of an innovative economy. The UK is voted one of the best IP environments in the world. To keep it that way we are keen to look ahead to the challenges that new technologies bring. We need to make sure the UK's IP environment is adapted to accommodate them.
Artificial Intelligence in healthcare is undoubtedly having a moment. It is already transforming fields such as medical imaging where AI revolutionises image analysis, expanding its reach and improving overall quality. With the UK Government planning an AI revolution, healthcare AI start-ups stand to benefit, but only if they place Intellectual Property (IP) at the centre of their business strategy. Earlier this year, prime minister Theresa May called for health charities, the NHS and the AI community to work together by pooling data. "The development of smart technologies to analyse great quantities of data quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy than is possible by human beings opens up a whole new field of medical research and gives us a new weapon in our armoury in the fight against disease", she said during her speech.
As we go into 2017 the incipient'technologisation' or'IT-isation', if you'll excuse the terms, of our lives is gathering pace and becoming much plainer to see. AI and deep learning are worth calling out for particular attention. In research consultancy Gartner's'Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2007' survey, Gartner Vice-President and Fellow David Cearley said "over the next 10 years, virtually every app, application and service will incorporate some level of AI. This will form a long-term trend that will continually evolve and expand the application of AI and machine learning for apps and services." Deep learning, a machine learning technique, is emerging as AI's'killer app' enabler.
The shape of multicoloured three-dimensional puzzle Rubik's Cube is not a trademark, the European Court of Justice has ruled. It means the shape of the cube alone is not enough to protect it from being copied. UK company Seven Towns, which manages Rubik's Cube's intellectual property rights, registered its shape as a trademark in in the 1990s. But German firm Simba Toys challenged the trademark protection in 2006. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) agreed that the cube's ability to rotate should be protected by a patent and not a trademark.
It's the familiar multicoloured "cube" brain-teaser which has challenged puzzle solvers for more than 40 years and is still the world's bestselling toy of all time. But on Thursday – following a 10-year legal tussle – Rubik's Cube lost a key trademark battle after the European court of justice (ECJ) said its shape was not sufficient to grant it protection from "copycat" versions. The eponymous puzzle, invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and architect Erno Rubik, is popular among young and old, with more than 350m cubes sold to date worldwide. UK company Seven Towers, which oversees Rubik's Cube intellectual property rights, registered the shape as a three-dimensional EU trademark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in April 1999. But the court ruled that the EU trademark representing the shape of the Rubik's Cube is invalid, triggering fears it will lead to a surge of cheap, mass-produced versions and a weakening of European intellectual property protection.
The test for what is'fair' is a matter of degree and the impression the court forms of the defendant's conduct. Under the US fair use exception, copying a copyright work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research does not infringe copyright. In determining whether the use of a work is fair, factors such as purpose and character of the use, the nature of the work, the portion of the copyrighted work used and the effect of the use on the market for that copyrighted work must be considered. While the US and UK approaches appear very similar, the key difference is that the list of purposes which may be fair use in the US is non-exhaustive; UK law excepts only a short, exhaustive list. US courts have accordingly been free to apply the exception in a wide range of circumstances as long as the use is fair.