April AI Report 2021 – Designs

Designs in AI 2021 – Sarah Neil shares an update on the progress in the UK’s review of artificial intelligence and intellectual property


As we have mentioned in previous articles how having a range of IP, including Designs, is an important part of a strong portfolio in the protection of your AI business. The ever accelerating landscape and growth of AI technology means keeping on top of the changing legislation and law. In this years’ AI report series our team of experts share the updates on the UK’s progress in the development of IP for AI.


UK Government response to “Call for views on AI and IP”

The aim of the designs section of the questions was to:

  • understand the implications of AI in the design sector,
  • seek stakeholder views on ownership and authorship and infringement and
  • whether legislation may need to change to take account of AI becoming more common in future

The designs section of the report is available here. A summary of the responses and the Government’s reply is below.


Designs in AI: a Summary of responses

Ownership / authorship

Most respondents agreed that current legislation does not permit AI to own a design due to a lack of legal personality and were of the view that AI should not be given the right to own a design.

Many respondents highlighted the provisions in the Registered Designs Act 1949 which relate to computer generated works and some felt these provisions were adequate to deal with AI generated designs. Others felt the current provisions could result in confusion over who owned the design. It was suggested by some that the provisions should be kept under review as AI technology develops.

Views were also mixed in relation to the provisions of the Community Designs Regulation. Most responses considered the current provisions sufficiently flexible, but others felt there was potential for uncertainty, especially for designs created autonomously by AI.


Several respondents suggested that AI could be a tool for infringement, but not an infringer. Most respondents suggested that AI may be capable of carrying out some infringing acts, such as offering, putting on the market and making designs, but other infringing acts require the input of an individual with a legal personality. It was generally agreed that liability should fall on the individual or organisation using AI as a tool to infringe.

It was generally felt that the informed user test is broad and flexible and that the presence of AI should not impact the use of this concept.

Government response

The Government acknowledges that use of AI to generate designs is an evolving area and that the view of current stakeholders is that current legislation is generally fit for purpose but there is a need to monitor the situation.

It is also accepted by the Government that an AI system should not be considered an author or owner of a design. The view provided by respondents that ai systems may be used to carry out infringing acts but that AI is merely a tool and liability lies with a human was also accepted. Finally, the widely held view that the informed user test remains applicable to designs generated by AI was acknowledged.

The Government concluded that no immediate action is needed in relation to designs, but the matter will be kept under review.


If you wish to discuss this topic, or another Designs or AI related topic, you can contact the writer, or a member of our AI Team.

Also in this series:
April AI Report 2021 – Trade marks
April AI Report 2021 – Copyright

Also related to the Governments ‘call for views on AI & IP’:

UK Government ‘call for views on AI & IP’ response – Patents & AI

Call for industry views on AI and IP and ViCo

AI and IP – A report on CIPA’s Computer Technology Committee recommendations on AI and IP

Category: Latest Insights | Author: Sarah Neil | Published: | Read more