Eye, Robot: Artificial Intelligence and Trade Mark Registers
Forthcoming in N. Bruun, G. Dinwoodie, M. Levin & A. Ohly (eds.), Transition and Coherence in Intellectual Property Law, (Cambridge University Press, 2020)
15 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2019 Last revised: 24 Jul 2020
Date Written: October 10, 2019
Trade mark registration systems exist to provide useful information. Registers tell us who owns what. Until recently, it was axiomatic that registers for marks were directed at human readers – an applicant for a trade mark, trade mark registry examiners, vigilant competitors, employees of search and watching agencies as well as the occasional judge. This list now has a new entrant. What are the implications for the registered trade mark ecosystem, when algorithms begin to efficiently and comprehensively read trade mark registers? This chapter outlines the adoption of AI-enabled similarity assessment technology by search agencies, trade mark registries and watching agencies. Building on recent improvements in semantic and image searches, these algorithms identify conflicts between marks at the registry level. They provide a heuristically helpful (upstream) snapshot of conflict risks, based on two dimensions of similarity: marks and goods. However this simplified assessment may unintentionally edge out the more complex multi-factor likelihood of confusion test in a wider range of situations, including trade mark infringement analysis. The limits of these algorithms must be borne in mind.
Keywords: trade marks, trademarks, artificial intelligence, algorithm, registration
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