ChatGPT and IP

Unless you’ve been living in isolation for the past couple of years, you will have more than likely heard of, or maybe even tried, some of the amazing creations made by AI technology. Tools like Stable Diffusion can generate beautiful images based on a particular theme, filling social media with user-generated Renaissance-style portraits. However, it was the launch of ChatGPT last year that has truly sparked people’s interest, and possibly some concerns.

 

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT, or generative pre-trained transformer, is essentially a chatbot. However, unlike its predecessors with limited capabilities and clunky responses, ChatGPT can quickly and clearly answer questions on a wide range of topics. Simple queries are similar to using a virtual assistant like Siri. The real attention-grabber; however, is its ability to provide detailed, well-written and articulate responses to more open-ended prompts.

If Wikipedia’s goal is to gather information through crowdsourcing, and Google’s is to organise it, ChatGPT is like having a smart friend who can summarise it all in a few paragraphs.

 

How can ChatGPT be used?

One of the major potential uses of ChatGPT is in content creation, it can be used to generate written content such as articles, blog posts, product descriptions, and even crossword puzzles like the one we created below using the technology:

(Click on the image to download the crossword in PDF format so you can complete it in your own time)

ChatGPT
Furthermore, ChatGPT can be integrated into customer service chatbots to provide more accurate and detailed answers to customer inquiries. This can improve customer satisfaction and reduce the workload for customer service representatives.

Another important use of ChatGPT is in language translation, it can be fine-tuned for language translation, allowing businesses to expand their reach to new markets and communicate with customers in their native languages. Additionally, ChatGPT can be used to summarise large amounts of text, such as news articles or legal documents. This can save businesses time and resources by quickly identifying the most important information.

ChatGPT can also be used as a virtual writing assistant, helping businesses and individuals to improve the quality of their writing and complete tasks more efficiently. Furthermore, it can be used by creative writers to generate new story ideas, plot twists, and character descriptions.

 

What are the limitations of ChatGPT?

An important limitation of ChatGPT is that the quality of the output depends on the quality of the input. In other words, expert directions (prompts) generate better answers. Much like Google, the initial results can be somewhat dubious, and it is only with some further tweaking of question do you get the answer you require.

Another limitation is that because it is trained to provide answers that “feel” right to humans, the answers can “trick” humans that the output is correct. Consequently, even though the answers appear plausible, they are not always correct or can sometimes not make sense. This behaviour is common to large language models. This could prove particularly dangerous when copywriters or students use the content for reports/articles/academic papers without fact checking the information before publishing it.

 

What are the potential legal issues?

As ChatGPT, and other AI tools, are fairly new to the industry, there is still a lot of grey areas out there. However, it’s important to note that any commercial use of ChatGPT should be done in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including those related to data privacy and intellectual property.

In particular, the question of who owns or can copyright AI-generated material, which is a contentious issue, should be considered when using ChatGPT or similar AI technology for commercial purposes.

The European Commission has proposed the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down harmonised rules on artificial intelligence (the Artificial Intelligence Act) which aims to establish a legal framework for AI in the European Union (EU).

The proposal includes provisions for the liability of AI providers and transparency requirements for certain AI applications, but it also addresses IP rights, stating that the creators of AI-generated works, such as chatbots, should be considered the authors of those works and should therefore be entitled to copyright protection.

Nevertheless, there are some concerns about the use of AI-generated content, particularly with regards to citations and original sources. For example, if a chatbot or language model like ChatGPT generates a response without referencing the original source of the information, it could lead users to unwittingly publish content that is not unique or worse, copyrighted.

Another interesting issue would be if ChatGPT were to generate the exact same passages for more than one user.  Who owns the copyright in this case, and can infringement be claimed? Or what would happen if the content created is an exact copy of already protected work? Who is liable, the creator of the AI — such as ChatGPT — or the user who posed the query? Another concern is the potential for AI-generated text to be used in a public forum, such as a website or report, without proper citation of the technology used to generate it. This raises questions about plagiarism, particularly in academic settings.

The use of AI-generated content also raises further risks, such as the potential for cybercrime through the creation of convincing content for phishing emails, and the need for compliance with data protection regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the use of AI-generated content has the potential to greatly benefit various industries, but it is important to address the intellectual property rights and potential risks associated with its use.

The recent proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down harmonised rules on artificial intelligence (the Artificial Intelligence Act) and the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence have addressed some of these issues, but there are still questions about who owns or can copyright AI-generated material.

As AI technology continues to evolve, it is essential for brands to stay informed and prepared for the potential use of AI-generated content.

Brands should consider consulting with legal experts to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations and to address any concerns related to intellectual property rights.

They should also be aware of the potential risks associated with the use of AI-generated content and take steps to mitigate these risks.

As this technology becomes more common place, brands that are proactive in addressing these issues will be better positioned to take advantage of the benefits of AI-generated content while minimising the potential risks.

Authors: Luisa Grillo and Giulia Foschiani

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Luisa Grillo

Bio

Music is my first passion and I love singing, whether that is in the shower or in a local karaoke bar. I also like to keep fit and am often found hitting the ski slopes, playing a game of padel or taking a cross-training lesson at the gym. When not on the go, I'm also quite partial to a glass of wine.

As an IP Counsel, I specialise in legal brand protection and intellectual property law. I am a qualified Attorney at law and advise clients on all kinds of IP matters, with a particular focus on trademark management and strategy, competition law and innovation as well as private and tech law.

Luisa speaks: Italian, English and Spanish

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Bio

With her motto “every day there is a new challenge”, Giulia loves nothing more than finding something new to push herself and learn something different. This determined Italian brings her infectious positive attitude to every situation, whether it is playing her favourite sports or making some delicious sweets, Giulia always gives her “A game”.

To relax, Giulia loves to spend time with her friends and family as well as her gorgeous dog.

As a Junior IP Counsel, Giulia specialises in intellectual property law and is currently following a master in IP and artificial intelligence at Luiss (University of Rome) to further deepen her knowledge in this field. Her passion is the protection of brands, in particular, fashion brands and she enjoys getting her teeth into a complex case.

Giulia speaks: Italian and English

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