What effect does artificial intelligence have on current trademark law?

Marie-Christine Janssens

Marie-Christine Janssens is Head of the CiTiP Research Centre (Centre for IT & IP Law) and Professor of Intellectual Property (IP) at the Catholic University of Leuven (K.U. Leuven). She teaches students about trademark law within the Benelux, the EU and worldwide. Here she tells us about how she enjoys working together with BOIP and about the rapidly changing world of trademark law. “I’m interested in the effects of artificial intelligence on trademark law.”  

“For a few years now, I’ve been taking students specialising in intellectual property to BOIP in The Hague. These trips are really greatly appreciated because the students gain a real insight into the ins and outs of trademark and design registration. Several times now, the legal expert Tomas Westenbroek has given a guest lecture, whereby they get to grips in groups with a genuine case. What the students find especially very instructive and valuable is the information that Tomas gives afterwards about how it really works in practice.” With the COVID-19 situation, these visits are not possible at the moment, but Marie-Christine is already looking forward to the next one. “What I personally find very valuable about these meetings, is that we inspire each other and thereby continue to maintain the quality of the profession.” 

Uitstapje studenten BOIP


The IP profession is never boring 

That is needed in a world where IP rights are constantly evolving. “Take the publication of textbooks,” continues Marie-Christine. “My colleague professors sometimes use the same version for ten years.” I have to replace my IP textbooks for new versions every two years because, by then, too much has changed to continue using them. The up-side of that is that my profession is never boring,” says Marie-Christine with a big smile. To the question of what the major changes have been over the past 50 years, she answers: “There's been an increase in awareness of trademark law. Internet has made everything open and transparent. There is also huge growth in case law, especially from the European Court of Justice. It means you have to dig much deeper into the subject.”  

Others determine what brands we buy 

Marie-Christine is looking forward to the future with interest. “I see a big challenge with artificial intelligence in the coming years. You can already see that influencers are having a major effect on the purchasing behaviour of consumers. What’s going to happen when our purchases are determined for us by artificial intelligence? Take, for example, Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. You say out loud what you need and within two days the product is at your door. It's Amazon then that determines which brand you’re going to use. Technology and our behaviour as consumers will change dramatically in the coming years. The question I ask myself is how are these developments going to affect current trademark law? I find that an interesting topic, which we as IP professionals have to address. 

Proud heritage, bright future
BOIP is 50! We are using this anniversary as an opportunity to pause and look back over our rich past. And to show that we are looking forward to the future. Under the motto ‘Proud heritage, bright future’, we take you back over 50 years of intellectual property (IP). In these guest blogs, IP professionals tell us how they look back in the past or how they see the future. 

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