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IP system evolves as role of AI expands

Updated: Apr 2, 2024 By ZHOU JIN in Boao, Hainan China Daily Print
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The realm of intellectual property will evolve with the development of artificial intelligence, said Daren Tang, director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization, adding that he and his organization will continue to focus on placing "human creators and innovators" at the core of their work.

"AI is here to enhance and support human innovation, instead of replacing or destroying it," Tang told reporters last week on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024 in Boao, Hainan province.

In recent times, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of lawsuits involving copyright violation by AI in the areas of music, art, photography and writing.

This is not the first time that intellectual property systems are encountering big technological changes, Tang said. There was a similar scenario in the 1990s, with the rise of the internet and the creation of e-commerce, he added.

"I don't think AI will fundamentally change the intellectual property system," Tang said. To deal with challenges brought about by AI, the organization hosts regular conversations with representatives from 193 member states. It has also released two policy toolkits to help countries and companies to "navigate this difficult topic".

"We're looking forward to working with different partners, including Chinese partners, to support Chinese AI entrepreneurs, as well as use China's practices to support other countries," he said.

In 1973, the Chinese government sent its first delegation to Geneva for a WIPO meeting, and the country joined the organization in 1980. The two sides celebrated 50 years of cooperation last year.

Mature ecosystem

Tang said that joining the WIPO was an indication that China viewed innovation and technology as an important part of reform and opening-up.

"China, in the last 50 years, has shown tremendous growth and maturity in the intellectual property space," he said.

China is now the world's largest filer of intellectual property applications for everything from patents to trademarks, and from designs to the area of geographical indications, Tang said.

In 2023, the country filed 69,610 Patent Cooperation Treaty applications, becoming the largest origin of PCT filings. Tang said a lot of the filings are from the digital technology space. The country's telecom giant Huawei Technologies remained the top filer with 6,494 published PCT applications last year.

"I think that the achievements of China in the last 50 years, from a very basic to now a very mature ecosystem, are not the result of coincidence or chance", but because China has consistently placed high importance on intellectual property, he said, adding that WIPO is glad to see China's development in this area.

Citing his recent trip to Shen­zhen and Guangzhou, both in Guangdong province, he said that Chinese enterprises are paying more attention to innovation and are investing a lot of resources into research and development.

In addition, local governments have also built the "right ecosystems" to encourage innovation and creativity, he said.

As the Chinese government is pursuing high-quality development, Tang said that innovation, technology and intellectual property will become even more crucial in the next stage.

The country also hopes to use intellectual property to contribute to addressing global challenges, such as climate change, which will help achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

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