The fascinating role of AI in trade mark registration

25th Mar 2019

Corsearch gave us a glimpse into the future of trade mark registration, including the role of artificial intelligence (AI).

David Butler

We were delighted to welcome David Butler and Jean-François Vanden Eynde from this year’s gold sponsor, Corsearch to this year’s Spring Conference. They took it in turn to share invaluable insight into why AI intimidates us, but also how exciting it really is.

David opened, and later closed, with a quotation from Felix Baumgartner, ‘the man who threw himself from the sky on behalf of Red Bull’, as David put it, for which Felix broke the record for the longest skydive. Here’s what Felix said:

‘Learn to love what you’ve been taught to fear.’

‘A lot of people are fearing what’s happening with AI and machine learning,’ said David, ‘but it’s coming, it’s here, and we need to look to embrace it. There are benefits to things you fear.’ 

He gave the example of driverless cars, asking who would get in one. Around half of the audience raised their hand. When facing fears, we should apply risk mitigation, David recommended. If we assess how dangerous the thing we fear really is, we’ll have a better idea of whether it’s worth doing. 

The general public was afraid when the IBM PC 64, one of the earliest personal computers, arrived on the market. ‘We didn’t know what computers were going to do for us, or where they’d take us.’ Thirty years on, we all have a much smaller but much more powerful computer in our pocket without worry. 

So, what are we afraid of now? 

Jean-François Vanden Eynde

Jean-François took over to acquaint us with the benefits of what we might fear, and how those benefits can apply directly to the trade mark registration process. 

AI will always apply the same decision-making. It’s not variable, like humans are. It won’t work independently from humans, though. In fact, humans can improve the systems, because AI learns from users. It can then predict human decisions, based on previous interactions. Think of Google Autofill, for example. AI is also happy to toil at weekends. And it can’t be overworked. 

AI has the capacity to completely transform the trade mark registration process. Not just because it can work harder and longer than we physically can, but because AI brings the two parts of the process together—the creative and the legal—in a way nothing else has before. 

AI will be able to assess if a name has any linguistic challenges and, at the same time, test if it’s legally viable. This promises to save a tremendous amount of money, time and resources, while bringing more structure to the registration process.

It can produce an infinite number of letter combinations, and respond to very specific requests. For example, the letter the trade mark has to begin and end with. AI won’t get emotionally attached to a trade mark either. So it can move on without hesitation when a trade mark is proved unusable. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting and useful functions AI can perform in this environment is finding trade marks that can be pronounced the same way in all countries. This gives great insight early in the process, again saving time and money, and making for a product that can be marketed globally. 

AI raises the same two questions as the IBM PC 64: where will it take us, and what can it do for us? The answer to the first remains uncertain. As for the second, there’s no debating that AI can bring numerous benefits to the way we live our lives, both inside and outside the trade mark industry. 

David Butler is Senior Vice President Product & Market Planning for Corsearch.

Jean-François Vanden Eynde is Product Manager (Europe) for Corsearch.