WIPO Director General Calls for More Innovative IP Protection Solutions

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General, Francis Gurry, believes that the current IP protection landscape is inevitably being changed by advancements in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). Speaking to WIPO magazine, at its headquarters in Geneva, Mr. Gurry welcomes this development as the current IP framework was primarily developed in the wake of the 18th century Industrial Revolution. While the existing system is nowhere near obsolete, questions are being asked as to whether the existing classical intellectual property (IP) system is capable of addressing future challenges in the realm of digital economy.

Implementation of Innovative IP Policies for the Digital Economy

The Director General believes that a number of countries are currently trying to use advanced digital technologies to create new services and products. These innovations are heavily reliant on the manipulation of data on a massive scale, which include electronic, voice, image and text data.

While there is a general consensus that data sharing is necessary for the development of new offerings, governments are not able to unilaterally compel private companies to share proprietary data publicly. This is largely due to insufficient protection of private IP rights in the public realm.

As such, governments as well as other stakeholders must develop new frameworks to identify restrictions and limitations involving the collating, sharing, storing and usage of digital data.

Privacy Concerns and Machine Data Ownership

Privacy is considered as a basic human right and, as such, stakeholders must ensure that appropriate levels of protection are accorded to safeguard the rights of data owners. A great example, at least in the public sphere, is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is designed to protect the privacy of consumers. Implementation of such safeguards will prevent data from being abused by dominant players in the market.

Beyond that, Mr. Gurry also raised the issue of data ownership of machines. While the issue may appear superfluous, there are growing questions on the property ownership of data generated by machines powered by technologies using AI-based algorithms.

With such complex challenges on the horizon, WIPO is actively promoting dialogues between member states to encourage and facilitate new policy innovations in this data-driven world.

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