Rich Martinelli Looks Ahead at IP Law and Artificial Intelligence in 2020


Rich Martinelli, a partner in Orrick’s Intellectual Property practice, recently spoke with Commercial Dispute Resolution to offer his insights on the past year in IP law and to discuss key cases to watch out for in 2020.

According to Rich, a major trend to keep an eye on in the U.S. is IP protection of artificial intelligence (AI) and related systems. AI presents unique challenges for IP law, including non-human AI systems being named as inventors on patent filings.

“While it seems unlikely that a non-human can be an inventor in the US, it is an open question that the PTO is exploring through a pair of recent Requests for Comment on the impact of machines performing creative tasks that the law assumes only humans can perform. Because there is relatively little case law on these issues, the PTO’s policy positions will likely be influential,” Rich explained.

Rich predicted an uptick in cases of parties fighting over the use of data to train AI systems, citing Planner5D v Facebook, in which Lithuanian home design company Planner5D alleged that Princeton University and Facebook violated its IP rights by using its data for AI training.

While the case was ultimately dismissed because there was no registered copyright, Rich noted that it “raised interesting issues concerning whether Planner 5D’s 3D models were copyrightable and whether training an AI on such data constitutes infringement”, continuing that “practitioners should be on the lookout for similar cases because the use of data in AI systems is a hot and developing area of the law”.

More of Rich’s insights and predictions for 2020 can be found in the full article [subscription required].