March 29, 2023 4:13 pm Published by

We’re gearing up for another great year in IP! Our Dublin IP and R&D Summit is just around the corner, so we’re taking some time to get to know the latest in the constantly-evolving world of intellectual property!

From AI to Superdry, this is your place for the biggest, hottest, and most interesting happenings in intellectual property. Here are five stories that have grabbed headlines and attention around the world.

1. The AI Conundrum Continues

ChatGPT has taken the world by storm. But as the AI software continues to make headlines, what does it all mean for intellectual property?

In our last blog, we discussed a case which has been presented to several major courts; Stephen Thaler created an AI system that generated a piece of art. He argued that, because he AI created the piece, it was the rightful owner. However, ChatGPT has taken a different approach. 

When asked about ownership, ChatGPT states ‘I do not claim ownership of any content I generate. The text I produce is not protected by copyright laws and can be used freely without attribution.’ With the current lack of laws protecting works produced by artificial intelligence, there’s an opening for people (and companies) to monetise AI creations as their own IP. Countries across the world are reacting in different ways and at different paces; copyright offices in the U.S. and India have refused registration of works with AI named as authors or co-authors, but Canada has granted registration to an artwork naming an AI tool as a co-author. South Africa named DABUS, another AI system created by Stephen Thaler, an “inventor” of its creations, a decision rejected by EU, UK, Australian, US, and other major offices.

The debate surrounds the extent of human ownership and shows no signs of slowing down, although protection is clearly needed to avoid future misuse. 

2. Superdry Sells IP to South Korean Cowell Fashion Co.

Following a recent hiring of financial advisors, the contemporary British fashion company, Superdry, has struck a £40.7m deal with South Korean brand, Cowell. The deal will offload all of Superdy’s Asia Pacific IP assets to Cowell and will allow for the two brands to work together in creating products relevant to those regional markets. 

Superdry will retain its rights to the brand in Australia, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka, and has a right of refusal to buy back the assets if Cowell wishes to sell or allow IP registrations to relapse. 

This deal proves the effectiveness and long-run applications of IP rights – and as the brand continues to fight a challenging market, opening up their revenue with region-curated products, a positive upturn for the company could be in store.

3. IP Portfolios During a Recession: Can You Maintain a Strong One?

With the UK economy narrowly avoiding a recession, businesses might be cutting back on research and development (R&D) or IP investment to avoid additional costs. 

However, Mauro Paiano, IP expert and Partner at Shakespeare Martineau, states that having a rich IP portfolio can actually help businesses retain their market share and emerge from the recession in a prime position. ‘For innovators looking to stay ahead of competitors, R&D needs to be consistent; stand still for too long and businesses may find they have fallen behind,’ writes Paiano. When a company’s innovation falls behind, the innovators risk not only gaining a loss in reputation, but seeing competitors enter the market. 

Businesses who are able to keep their R&D and IP funding going during economic downturns should do so – otherwise, they risk falling behind in  the recovering market. 

4. Oxford Student Challenges University’s IP Policy

A recent case has reached the High Courts in which the inventor of a super-resolution microscope (the “Nanoimager”), Bo Jing, challenges the University of Oxford’s ownership of the Nanoimager. 

The microscope was developed at the university, with Jing being credited as having done the bulk of the research and development during his brief internship and doctoral degree. The technology was spun out of the university when Jing founded a company based around the technology. The university licensed the company to use the technology in return for royalties – the company has argued that, because the inventor, Jing, was the inventor, the licence was void, and no royalties were due.

Section 39 of the Patents Act 1977 clearly states that an invention made by an employee belongs to the employer if it was made in the course of the employee’s normal duties. Because, during his internship, Jing worked on the microscope, this would make him the rightful owner.

This case is still awaiting a decision, but it provides a unique look at not only how IP functions between universities and their staff or students, but how their IP policies must be clear and make sense for everyone involved.

5. The European Commission’s New IP SME Helpdesk is Here

The European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) of the European Commission has opened a new Intellectual Property Helpdesk.

Complementing the already-existing European IP Helpdesk and African IP Helpdesk, this new edition is open to China, South-East Asia, Latin America, and India. It will provide free assistance for SMEs with intellectual property issues doing business within the commission’s target markets. This includes ‘first-line’ assistance, which doesn’t extend to services often provided by law firms or other competing operators, such as patent applications or contracts. 

Over the last four years, the helpdesks have received over 7,830 queries, provided over 500 training sessions, carried out 585 matchmaking events, and hosted 147 case studies. They aim to improve awareness, improve capacities, implement IP strategy-providing services, and facilitate cooperation opportunities – all for EU SMEs.

Intellectual property is an exciting and constantly-changing aspect covering many sectors, companies, and industries. We’re not just deliverers of the latest news stories, though – we host IP events!

Our Dublin IP and R&D Summit is back for its third iteration! If you’re looking to expand your company’s horizons, make connections, or give your two-cents on the biggest issues facing IP, get in touch with the team today – sponsorship could be perfect for you!

No matter your stake in IP, we have a spot for you. Looking to learn, get to know other industry professionals, make lasting connections? DIPS is for you! We’re not only hosting a riveting conference with an action-packed agenda and powerhouse exhibiting floor, but an IP Commercialisation Workshop hosted by the pros, Mathys & Squire Consulting.

Whatever your place in IP, we have a spot for you! Secure your place today and join us on June 29th in the heart of Dublin – we can’t wait!

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