The AI Algorithm’s Inheritance: Who Takes the Credit?

Khurana and Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys India

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm’s inheritance is a fiercely debated as well as a controversial talking point. To answer the question of who owns the products created by AI, it is crucial to answer who owns intellectual property. An owner is a person who creates a work using his intellect and will be the first owner of the intellectual property created by him unless there is a contract contrary to it. AI can never be consistent with the definition of the owner as per intellectual property as the owner should always be a person and the product created by him should be original and come out of his intellect.


Intellectual Property (IP) created by Artificial Intelligence (AI) completely hinges on Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), which are among the most advanced AI to ever exist. A GAN is a machine-learning model that consists of two neural networks called the generator and the discriminator. In the working of GAN, both the generator and the discriminator compete with each other by utilising deep learning methods to produce precise outputs. This sort of AI reflects that in the coming future, we’re going to have a world that creates products independent of the human intellect, with greater efficiency and in a shorter period.


In the year 2017, a patent application was filed in the jurisdictions of the USA, European Union and United Kingdom for granting a patent to Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience (DABUS), an AI. However, all three patent applications were denied protection on the ground that DABUS is not a “natural person” which was a basic criterion for granting of patent in the legislation of the above states. According to a report published in 2019 by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a proliferation of patent applications are being filed for granting patents to an AI. Recently in 2020, the Copyright Office of India dealt with the case involving the obscurity of whether AI can be considered an artist under the Copyright Act 1957. This case was related to an AI system named “RAGHAV” which made an artwork called “Suryast” and applied for copyright protection under the Copyright Act 1957. The same was rejected on the ground that the artwork didn’t have a human author but the artwork was subsequently granted protection when a human was named a co-author with RAGHAV. A very enthralling question has emerged due to this rapid growth in AI-based applications, as to whether AI can be considered as an inventor or author. Now, coming back to the question of who takes the credit for AI-generated works. The making and development of an AI algorithm is an intricate and collective process where a team of researchers, engineers and data scientists collate their efforts towards achieving the desired AI algorithm. However, the credit for the works created by these algorithms is not always clear-cut.


One viewpoint is that the primary contributors to the development of AI algorithms should be given credit for the work generated by that particular AI algorithm. Here the primary contributors include all the individuals who are directly associated with the algorithm’s development. They should be considered as the primary contributors as they are the individuals who have put in time and labour to create the algorithm and evolve it through testing and reiteration. This is also propagated by the doctrine of “Sweat of the Brow”.


On the contrary, some disagree with the approach that primary contributors should be given the credit and claim that the real credit should be accorded to the entire AI research and the accumulative knowledge that has been built up over a long period through advancements and incremental improvements done by numerous engineers and researchers. The present AI algorithm has evolved through testing and reiteration and is just the most recent iteration in a lineage of increasingly advanced strategies and approaches.


Moreover, the training data has a vital role in the performance and efficiency of outcomes in an AI algorithm. The AI algorithm is highly relying upon the quantity and quality of data being used to train it. However, the persons who are involved in cleaning, collating and curating the data are only sometimes accorded with the credit of works produced. Even the most advanced AI algorithm would only perform efficiently with high-quality data.


A probable solution towards giving credit for AI-based works would be to embrace an inclusive approach towards acknowledging the achievements of AI algorithms. Through an inclusive approach, we can foster such an environment that acknowledges all the stakeholders of the AI-based works produced such as the data providers, the entire research team & the AI community and the end-user who has a vital role in the outcome produced by the AI algorithms. 

In conclusion, the question that had to be answered as to who deserves the credit for the works produced by AI algorithms is a multifaceted and complicated one. It probably combines the efforts of various stakeholders with expertise in the particular domain to develop and efficiently function AI algorithms. These stakeholders deserve credit for the work produced by the AI algorithms. Yet, nobody gets the credit for these works because most of the countries across the globe do not accept the works created by AI algorithms as intellectual property, solely due to lack of human intervention in the work produced. Apart from the absence of a natural person, there is also the absence of a legislative framework addressing AI-generated works as intellectual property. This creates a grey area in the domain of intellectual property rights. Escalating forward, there’s an exigency for clarity and ethical guidelines, ensuring a just crediting while promoting a landscape of AI technology.




Khurana and Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys

About the Firm

Khurana and Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys

AddressD-45, UPSIDC, Site IV, Kasna Road, Greater Noida - 201308, National Capital Region, India
Tel91-120-313 2513, 91-120-350 5740
Contact PersonTarun Khurana

Related Articles