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Hanson Bridgett’s Webinar Sheds Light on Legal Industry’s AI Challenges

In a pioneering effort to address the unresolved queries surrounding generative artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal sector, Hanson Bridgett hosted a webinar titled “Artificial Intelligence: Legal Challenges and Emerging Solutions” on Tuesday. The session aimed to dissect and provide insight into some of the most pressing issues the legal community faces with the advent of AI technologies.

Inventorship and Intellectual Property in the Age of AI

One of the primary focuses was the complex realm of intellectual property (IP) rights in relation to AI-generated creations. Rob McFarlane, Hanson Bridgett’s technology practice lead, delved into the current patent law stipulations, particularly highlighting that AI, as of now, does not qualify as a “whoever” under patent statutes. This raises significant concerns about the patentability of AI inventions and the potential risk of such innovations falling into the public domain.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently offered guidance on “AI-assisted inventions,” suggesting that inventions must have a discernible human contribution to be patentable. This nuanced stance treats AI more as a co-inventor, requiring patent applications to identify both the human and the AI system involved in the creation process.

The Cost-Efficiency of Generative AI for Legal Firms

Warren Hodges, co-chair of Hanson Bridgett’s AI initiative, addressed the practical aspects of incorporating generative AI into legal practice. The current market offers limited cost-efficient generative AI products safe for legal use. This has led to a cautious approach from legal practitioners, who must decide between leveraging existing vendors’ AI solutions or developing bespoke tools tailored to their internal data.

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Ethical Use of AI by Lawyers

Brad Hise, Hanson Bridgett’s general counsel, raised important questions about the ethical use of AI in legal practice. Without direct guidance on the ethical implications of AI use, lawyers must navigate their existing professional responsibilities to ensure they’re using AI technologies appropriately. This includes obligations to keep clients informed and ensure the accuracy of AI-generated content, alongside considerations on billing practices related to AI tasks.

Looking Forward

As the legal industry ventures further into the AI domain, the webinar underscored the urgency for clear guidelines and adaptive solutions. The discussions from Hanson Bridgett’s webinar illuminate the path forward, highlighting the necessity for a balanced approach that embraces AI’s potential while safeguarding ethical standards and IP rights. As technology evolves, the legal profession stands at a crossroads, tasked with integrating AI in a manner that is both innovative and compliant with the foundational principles of law.

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