Addressing the big questions
“In a part-science, part-philosophical commentary, Vukmir examines where the inevitable adoption of AI may lead the legal sector and society.”
The 2021 edition of the WIPR Annual—the IP community’s recap of the past year—is dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As this issue went to press, patent owners were in the grips of an unprecedented manoeuvre to waive IP rights to vaccines, with the laudable aim of trying to slow the spread of the virus within low-income countries.
But the waiver, under discussion at the World Trade Organization, has obvious drawbacks, as Eyal Bressler of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property elegantly explains in his analysis (page 5).
“One finds difficulty in understanding how trade secrets covering all but a few components can be kept from the public, given the necessity to provide full information to regulatory authorities,” says a puzzled Bressler.
Meanwhile, Alexander Haertel of the Licensing Executives Society International argues that compulsory licensing makes the need for a waiver “unnecessary” (page 12). Such a move, he adds, will also impact investment into treatments—to everyone’s detriment.
The topic of future risks is explored by ECTA’s Mladen Vukmir, this time from the perspective of artificial intelligence (AI) (page 9). In a part-science, part-philosophical commentary, Vukmir examines where the inevitable adoption of AI may lead the legal sector and society. Offering a good dose of ethical consideration, Vukmir questions whether the legal profession or IT are best placed to ensure we avoid the pitfalls of AI-based systems.
The WIPR Annual covers the other big topics too, with commentary on the UK’s departure from the EU (page 7), often-heard patent ‘myths’ (page 18), and the copying culture that is threatening small businesses the world over (page 16). I hope you enjoy the issue.
Tom Phillips is the editor of WIPR
Image: shutterstock.com / ESB Professional