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Editorial: IP machinations

It is no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform many aspects of IP. The role and impact of the technology has been discussed many times and in many forums, but what we've done in this issue's cover story is bring together several views in one place. Most notably, we have spoken to Francis Gurry, the director general of WIPO, as well as Christian Archambeau, executive director of the EUIPO. We have also included comments from CIPO in Canada, to provide a wider view of how IP offices are using AI and their assessment of its influence.

One of the key – and most positive – findings is that there will still be a human role in IP administration in spite of AI's potential dominance. This of course comes against the backdrop of societal fears about AI robbing us of our jobs, and even our existence, depending who you believe. Gurry makes the good point that just 20 or 30 years ago, people worried that computers "would soon be running the world," but that industry is now a huge employer. It's an important reminder that while we often focus on the future in the AI debate, history can provide some useful pointers too.

The data we have sourced also paints an interesting picture. IBM is the clear leader in AI patent filings, followed by the State Grid Corporation of China, which is just ahead of Microsoft. Baidu and Google are in fourth and fifth places. Amid tensions between the US and China, the two countries vying for global supremacy, it's notable that organisations from those nations are seeking to dominate innovation in what could be the 21st century's most important technology. The filings graph shows a sharp spike in applications in the past four years, and that trend is likely to continue, prompting more AI work for IP offices – and, potentially, machines.

Away from AI, this issue covers topics as diverse as trademark legislation in Argentina to empowering young lawyers to become leaders, and EU patent injunctions to recycling rare earth metals. We hope there is something for everyone.

Speaking of diversity, our latest in-house counsel survey focuses on diversity and inclusion in IP; the full findings will be published on over July and August. Soon after it will be conference season, and we hope to see you then.

Ed Conlon
Managing editor

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