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  • Writer's pictureJim W. Ko

Protecting your IP rights when using AI to innovate

Your employees’ use of AI in developing your company’s products or services puts your company’s intellectual property rights at risk.  


  • 55% of all employees have used unapproved generative AI tools at work, and

  • 40% of all workplace generative AI users have used banned tools at work.

But when your employees leverage generative AI—with and in particular without permission—as part of your company’s research and development or marketing processes, they put your company at risk by:


A. Jeopardizing your company’s patent and trade secret rights through:


1. Public disclosure of your company’s proprietary information.


All prompts your employees type in to a generative AI and all output that is generated may potentially be deemed public disclosures. This potentially destroys any proprietary rights you might have over the information and also potentially invalidates any IP rights over any innovations you may have developed based on it.


2. Loss of ownership of your company’s patent rights.


Your employees’ use of generative AI in R&D inherently leaves your company subject to subsequent challenges that your inventive process did not have the requisite “significant contributions” from a human being to be eligible for a patent.


B. Putting your company at risk of third-party copyright and other IP infringement claims.


Your employees’ use of AI to generate text, images, music, etc. inherently puts your company at risk of third-party copyright and other infringement claims based on the AI’s use of copyrighted works to train its models.



Mitigating against these risks—and against spiraling litigation costs spent countering such ownership, invalidity, and third-party infringement challenges—from the start will help you sidestep such future landmines.

© 2024 Wood Phillips

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