As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are integrated into an increasing number of products and services, protection and enforcement issues involving patents and trade secrets will likely increase. The intersection of AI and intellectual property is quite new, and raises a number of interesting questions, such as: Who is the inventor if an artificially intelligent system discovers a new innovation? Who’s liable if an artificially intelligent system makes a decision that causes monetary damage or harm? Who will own the data, information, or results that may be generated by the artificially intelligent system?

AI technology may be protected by, or subject to, various forms of intellectual property law, including patents, trade secrets, and even copyright.

Some of these issues can be addressed in advance, in the licenses, joint ventures, development, and other types of agreements used in the development or use of AI technology. Parties should consider spelling out, in those agreements, who will be liable or responsible for the decision-making or results they get from automated or AI systems they may be using now or in the future.

And these issues are not just for the companies most obviously associated with AI – such as software, automotive (self-driving cars), and the like. Consumer companies are also very much getting into development and use of artificially intelligent systems. For example, AI is used to match paint colors or coating compositions. It needs to be understood that automated and artificially intelligent systems are already touching consumer industries. IP protection and enforcement issues may come more fully to fruition down the road, but consumer companies need to begin to prepare now.