Authors: Erikas Saukalas, Associated Partner, Attorney-at-Law, Head of the International Relations Division at METIDA, Ignas Motiejūnas, Junior Lawyer at METIDA
In today’s world robots, despite their recent entering into the market, can run many tasks, in this way successfully replacing humans, and help companies to reduce their production costs whilst ensuring the best product quality. As the robotic capacity increases and more tasks are being taken over by robots, companies find it difficult to appropriately protect their rights to these mechanisms. Taking into account that robots consist of various components, there are several intellectual property rights in order to protect them.
One of the main ways to acquire exclusive rights to a newly created robot is to file a patent application to a state institution. When filing the application three key aspects should be considered: technical level, inventive level and industrial applicability. As for the technical level, the robot cannot be known to public before patenting, in terms of the inventive level, the robot must perform distinctive and specific functions, whereas industrial applicability means that the robot must be easily applied in the market and perform its anticipated functions.
Another option is database protection based on opinions formed in a doctrine which allows you to protect data accumulated in robotic software. Although robots perform their tasks according to operation sequences set by their creators, they can also remember every new sequence. As a result, a systematic and methodically organised collection of data is created inside the robot, which you can acquire the rights to.
The third way is copyright and design registration which protects robot’s design. If you wish to get IP rights to robot’s design, a registered robot should not be similar to a common robot’s design and the public ought to find its design unique and distinct from other robot designs.
Although currently every robot’s creator can decide which legal protection mean to choose for their invention, you should have in mind that robots themselves create inventions. A great example is Adam, a lab robot, which managed to make a scientific invention on its own becoming the first mechanism of this kind in the world. Thereby, as the robots are improving rapidly, we should tackle other questions, i.e. how to protect their own creations that were made without the help from humans and who these rights should belong to.