The annual World Internet Congress was held as scheduledearlier this month in Wuzhen, where two hot words were repeatedly highlighted by Internet tycoon: “responsibility” and “artificial intelligence (AI)”; in particular, Ma Yun, chairman of the board of directors of Alibaba Group, once again burst out the classical wordsin his speech: "it is better to take on the responsibility than to worry about the cyberspace and digital economy."The author takes this as a point of view to throw some light on the recent thinking and talk about the challenges of AI to the intellectual property management of the enterprise and the responsibilities that IPers should take.
I can't remember when more and more peers around me began to talk about the possible impacts of AI technology on intellectual property industry in the future. Some observant and conscientious people began to think about what capabilities the IPer should have in the future. Some pioneers have taken the lead in intelligent patent search and contract drafting, and launched the initial productsat the application level. I believe that the real intellectual property AI era is far from coming, and there may be quite a long time beforethecomplete realization of AI, but no one can deny the inevitable trend of transformation.What role should the intellectual property managers play in the process of transformation? Spectators or participants, discussants or promoters
1. Characteristics of the AI Era
AI refers to theprocessing, analyzing and miningof massive data based on large data engine and through large-scale machine learning and in-depth learning technology,and extractingthe valuable information and knowledge contained in the data so as to find solutions to existing problems and achieve predictionby building models.Big data itself is not "intelligent" but itseffective use can produce "intelligent" effect.
In the AI era, the problems that used to be hard to solve could be solved withbigdata and machine intelligence, such as personalized cancer treatment. At the same time, bigdata and machine intelligence may revolutionize the future business models where many traditional industries have to upgrade through AI technology, and change theold business modelssimultaneously; it will also pose challenges to the existing legal systems, for example, how to determine the infringer, causal relationship between the infringement action and effect, and what liability principle should be applied in the case of infringement disputes on AI products.It can be seen that the impacts of AI on the future society may be omnidirectional.
2. Challenges faced bythe enterprise in intellectual property management
2.1 The scope of the object of enterprise intellectual property managementwill be expanded
Although solid legal skills are the basis ofthe intellectual property management of the enterprise, what’s more important is to solve the management problems in the development of the organization (enterprise). This is also the positioning difference in the career development of the external lawyers/agents and the in-house employees engaged in intellectual property management.
Management has five meanings in the managementsystem.Management is a process. The task of management is to achieve the objectives of the organization; the core of management is continuous improvement and pursuit of thebetter; the means of management is to allocate and operate the resources of the organization, and the essence of management is decision-making and coordination. The intellectual property management of enterprises belongs to the category of management science. The objects of theintellectual property management in the traditional context include means of production, productive forces and products. For example, the means of production can be either materials in the upstream of the supply chain or tools of production (manufacturing equipment or methods); productivity can be inventions in science and technology, and products can be physical material products or intangible spiritual products. Well managedintellectual property ofthe enterprise refers toincreased management efficiency, reduced costs, optimized quality, and controlled risks at the operational level of intellectual property rights.
In the AI era, big data will become an important means of production, and cloud computing, if not accidentally, will become the primary productivity. AI has put forward new inherent requirements on the intellectual property managers that they have to be able to manage bigdata and cloud computing related intellectual property rights in the future. For example, whether database protection, data disclosure and use belong to the category of intellectual property management; given that cloud computing occurs on the server side, these are all pending questions whether the existing patent portfolioconcepts and practices can effectively protect the innovations involving cloud computing andwhether the intellectual property management department has the measures and authority to protect the enterprise's bigdata and the cloud computing ability.
2.2 The basis of enterprise intellectual property management will face challenges
The mainmotivationofthe intellectual property management of the enterprise lies in ensuring the high-speed running of its main business whileavoiding homogeneous competition among peers orallowingsuch competitionin the premise of increasing itscosts by intellectual property licensing. The intellectual property management ofthe enterprise is conducted based on the infringementregulating laws, such as civil law, criminal law and other basic laws, as well as various intellectual property laws.
In the AI era, the existing legal system will be challenged, and many new business models may face risks which cannot be identified by the existing law. For example, an enterprise developed an AI product that can automatically composemusic according to user input conditions. If the composed song infringes other people's copyright, the first thing to do is to identify the infringer.Since the AI product may produce or work without people or with few people, its liability has commonalities and particularities compared with that of general products,and multiple potential infringers may be involved: data model builders, training data providers, product design developers, producers, sellers, operators, and relevant regulatory authorities. Compared with general products, for AI products, it needs to explore urgently whether the proportion of liability of each potential infringermentioned abovewill change and whether the judgment criteria of intellectual property infringement under different circumstances are consistent.
2.3 Organizations of intellectual property management of enterprises will undertake reforms
At present, the work of intellectual property managers of the enterprise is nothing more than innovation protection (patent + technical secret), creation protection (copyright) and brand protection (trademark + domain name).The only difference is thatthe enterprises in different industries at different development stages have different understandings, value degree andinvestmentallocations in the above three aspects.The existing intellectual property management structureof the enterprisegenerally includesapplication (registration), analysis, dispute resolution, licensing, transactions and other functional modules, regardless of the size of the organization and whether it has built-in or outsourced personnel. The larger the staff size and the amount of budget, the higher the revenue expectations and performance pressures it will bear.At the same time, if the intellectual property management department is overcrowded and homogeneous, the organization may also encounter promotional crises and undergrowth problems.
In the AI era, most of the repetitive work will be taken over by automated tools. Any pre-decision basic analysis and generality prediction may be done by robots. The intellectual property management department of the enterprise can no longer compete for "weight" but for "health".If the trademark intelligent searchtools are gradually improved, IPer's work will no longer be entangled in trademark search, but will focus on how to make decisions to cater to the business objectives; ifthe intelligent copyright monitoring tools are becoming more and more complete, there will be no need to employ a large number of IPers for manual monitoring; if the smart patent application composingtools begin to mature, IPers will be more likely to be freed from the tedious and time-consuming process of patent application composing, applying andreviewing. Enterprises may only need few but experienced intellectual property management experts with a keen business sense to operate numerous AI tools to optimize performance and only dealwith the more critical issues.
At the same time, the intellectual property management department of the enterprisealso needs to consider whether to add the post of AI product development and maintenance, asthe AI products may no longer be ancillary tools at that time, but become the most important productivity of the entire team.
3. Thinking of the development path before the advent of AI Era
Fortunately, the real AI era may take a long time to come, which allows the intellectual property managers to think and practice ahead. The author suggests thatenterprisesshouldpay attention to the following three aspects:
(1) Focus on data management
The intellectual property AI productsneed massive amounts of relevant data as the basis for training. Public data such as patents, trademarks and domain names provide part of the training data, but are far from enough. If enterprisesexpect to develop an intelligent tool for managementdecisions, they will need more training data at multiple dimensions such as finance, HR, and IP management.For example, the day-to-day work of the intellectual property management department of the enterprise is often discrete, unsystematic, distributed, uncooperative, and random. In order to acquire the AI tools that fit the characteristics of the enterprise, it is necessary to pre-manage the knowledge related to intellectual property. The key to knowledge data management is knowledge data absorption, sharing and precipitation.
(2) Pay attention tonew risks and advanced research
At the beginning of the layoutof AI business model, enterprises should study in advance the laws related to AI business model, systematically demonstrate how the existing laws interpret the infringement subject, behavior and many other core issues of the AI business model. They should also voice in the industry and participate in the proposal of legal evolutionso as to provide corporate development compliance proposals for large investment in the AI business model.
(3) Focus on application of new technologies
The AI tools are bound to dramatically improve the production efficiency of the intellectual property management, but it takes different periods of time for different companies to accept them, and the possibility of access to the tools may also vary greatly. It is hard to say whether these seemingly small differences will dramatically amplify the gap between the competitors in the same industry.The intellectual property management departments of the enterprises can consciously focus on the development of AI industry, accept the technological changes within a controllable scope, and even invest and jointly develop the intellectual property AI tools.
As the intellectual property managers, we still have a lot of potential possibilitiesto perceive and potential problems to think about before the AI era comes around."It's better to take on the responsibility than to worry about it." In fact, the IPers of enterprises can play a more important role in promoting the AI process of intellectual property management.