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AI Health Applications and Related Intellectual Property Challenges

DOI https://doi.org/10.21552/eplr/2019/4/9

Núria Porxas, Carme Sanz


Life and medical sciences was not the first field where artificial intelligence (AI) was used but it is without doubt currently one of the sectors where it is being applied most actively. Bioinformatics, biological engineering and physiological monitoring are among the areas benefitting from the good health of AI. The main intellectual property (IP) issues posed are whether AI systems themselves or the resulting works and assets generated by AI are eligible for IP protection and, if so, under what categories and conditions. The answers depend naturally on the characteristics of each piece of work and the type of IP right considered. In the case of advanced algorithms for machine learning, deep learning and neural networks (as the most common techniques employed in AI), even though there is no specific IP protection for algorithms, there is nothing to prevent them, from a theoretical point of view, from being considered for IP protection when they are applied to a technical problem or field or provide a specific technical implementation. However, obstacles to IP protection of AI clearly exist. These challenges are even greater in the life sciences sector, which is much more used to chemicals and long patent protection than to the breakneck speed of AI evolution and its complex IP protection requirements. The solution to these challenges may be a form of simultaneous protection through a mixture of different categories of existing IP. Whatever the outcome, this is an important exercise. While we have extraordinary AI talent in Europe, our IP figures for AI lag far behind those of other very active regions.

Núria Porxas and Carme Sanz are lawyers at Uría Menéndez Abogados. For Correspondence: <mailto:nuria.porxas@uria.com>, <mailto:carme.sanz@uria.com>.

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