As reported in an earlier ANGLE post, we discussed how 2021 saw a number of patent office developments with regard to whether a non-human entity could be considered an inventor under various patent regimes. Prior to 2021, several patent offices had considered this issue and found that A.I. could not be considered an inventor. In 2021, however, an Australian Court found that a non-human “inventor” is not inconsistent with inventorship under Australian law and South Africa issued a patent designating an A.I. system as the inventor.
It would appear at the end of 2021 that some patent offices were trending towards recognizing a non-human entity, like A.I. based technology, as an inventor. Could this trend continue?
Maybe not. With a decision just before Christmas of 2021 from European authorities, any such trend may have been stopped in its tracks.
In the first and second parts of our series on NFTs, we discussed where NFTs derive their value and what this new breed of digital tokenization means for IP-rights creators, holders, and users.
In this third and final instalment, we look at the history of NFTs from an artistic perspective and what their emergence means for the world of digital art.
In the first part of our series on NFTs, we discussed what an NFT is and what “ownership” of an NFT provides. You’ll recall that a non-fungible token is a unique blockchain-based “token” that consists of a chain of digital references to a specific intangible asset (e.g., digital files encoding music, art, video, icons, etc.).
In this instalment, we consider what NFTs could mean for IP rights creators, owners, and users.
Part 2: NFTs and IP Law
As discussed in part 1, the purchaser of an NFT cannot automatically claim ownership over the underlying digital asset, or any rights to that asset. What is acquired is simply the ability to exclusively transfer the NFT’s ownership status. What, therefore, is the value of NFTs to creators, holders, or users of intellectual property (“IP”) rights in those digital assets? Surely the NFT’s owner is the only person who can display, download or access the digital work? Not surprisingly, the answer is not as simple as many would like.
Earlier this year, something called an “NFT” sold for $69 million USD at auction. This was likely the first time most people had ever heard the term “NFT.” From that point forward, discussions of various NFTs were everywhere; as a result, they entered mainstream consciousness, much like Bitcoin had nearly ten years ago. In fact, NFT or “non-fungible token” was named word of the year for 2021.
Artists, musicians, and other creatives now saw in their work the potential for monetization. Investors woke up to the value of digital art assets. Indeed, in the first half of 2021, NFT transactions totalled in the billions.
Despite their near ubiquity, it is unclear to many what NFTs are and what role they play in the digital marketplace. Just as it may be unwise for investors, collectors, and creators to ignore the burgeoning NFT industry, it may be equally unwise for those same people to ignore potential issues arising from this new asset class. Even more unclear is what, if anything, these new digital assets mean for the users and owners of intellectual property (“IP”) rights.
This series of articles tries to demystify NFTs and discuss what impact they may have for creators, users, and owners of IP rights. We aim to shed light on the intersection of technology, the creative industries, and IP law that arises with NFTs.
In our first article, we will discuss the nature of NFTs. In our second article, we will discuss the impact of NFTs on IP rights holders. In our final article, we will discuss the applicability of NFTs in the world of digital art.
One does not need to be a legal scholar to know that confidential communications between lawyers and their clients for the purpose of seeking and giving legal advice are generally privileged. The so-called “solicitor-client” privilege is a cornerstone of law and allows clients and their lawyers to freely discuss legal issues without unintended disclosures. Thus, apart from certain exceptions, Canadian courts will not compel production of privileged communications such as emails, letters and reports exchanged between clients and their lawyers for the purpose of legal advice.
For years, this special treatment did not attach to communications between clients and their patent agents. This was problematic because patent agents often provide equally strategic and sensitive advice and opinions in the specific area of patents. As a result, it was common practice to channel such communications through lawyers to shroud these under solicitor-client privilege.