Intellectual Property and Frontier Technologies

The last two decades have seen an explosion of technologies that are transforming how we work and live in an increasingly interconnected digital world. The emergence and merging of frontier technologies is at the heart of what is sometimes termed Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. Frontier technologies are changing how we do business, how we innovate and create and the rate of change is increasing exponentially.

Frontier technologies provide opportunities for economic growth. In order to harness these opportunities for all, we need to ensure that the intellectual property (IP) system continues to foster innovation and creation and that the systems for IP administration evolve.

The field of frontier technologies is rapidly evolving and there is no agreed definition. However, frontier technologies share some common features. They operate at the intersection of radical scientific developments and real-world implementation. Furthermore, they are changing the way we communicate, solve problems, provide goods and services, create and do business.

Frontier technologies include:

  • digital technologies, such as the Internet of things (IoT), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud computing
  • physical technologies, such as autonomous driving, 3D printing and hardware innovations and
  • biological technologies such as genetic engineering, human augmentation and the brain-computer-interface.

While AI is currently the most prolific new technology in terms of the number of patent applications and granted patents, the Internet of things is estimated to be the largest in terms of market size. It is followed, again in market size, by big data technologies, robotics, AI, 3D printing and the fifth generation of mobile services (5G).

Data and intangible assets are the bedrock of our new, digitalized world. IP is rapidly gaining increasing importance over physical assets.

The IP system that we have today was developed with a focus on human creation and innovation and to encourage the development of technologies that enabled production process and trade of physical products. The IP system was also designed when the speed of innovation and creation was much slower than it is today.

One of the important tasks that we face today is to ensure that the current IP system continues to promote innovation in the age of frontier technologies.

At WIPO, the IP and Frontier Technologies Division primarily aims to facilitate discussion and knowledge building among Member States and other stakeholders on the impact of frontier technologies on IP to support well-informed policy choices and to provide practical tools and guidance to help us all navigate IP questions in the new digital world.

The WIPO Conversation on IP and Frontier Technologies is the main strand to that engagement.

We also develop practical guidance and tools relating to frontier technologies and IP and assist in the knowledge transfer and technology adaptation of platforms and tools for IP administration that utilize frontier technologies.

We send out regular email updates, you can contact us and we will add you to our mailing list so you can stay connected to our work and notified of any upcoming events.

Understanding the interaction between data and established IP systems is critical, participants heard at the most recent session of the WIPO Conversation on IP and Frontier Technologies

Read more

The WIPO Conversation on IP and Frontier Technologies

The WIPO Conversation provides an open, inclusive forum to engage with and facilitate discussion and knowledge building among the widest possible set of stakeholders on the impact on IP of frontier technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI). The Conversation provides stakeholders with a leading, global forum to discuss the impact of frontier technologies on IP rights in this fast moving and complex field.

WIPO generally holds two sessions of the Conversation each year in a format that allows the widest possible global audience to participate. Topics of the Conversation include the uses and applications of frontier technologies to assist IP Offices and IP owners as well as more conceptual policy based discussions.

Past sessions of the WIPO Conversation put a spotlight on IP Policy and AI and IP and Data.

The topics and dates for the 2022 session of the WIPO Conversation will be announced soon. If you would like to receive our notifications, please contact us to join our mailing list.

Technology focus

These are just a few areas of WIPO’s work on IP and Frontier Technologies in our expanding scope.

(Photo: WIPO)

Artificial Intelligence

The growth of AI across a range of technical fields raises a number of policy questions with respect to IP. The main focus of those questions is whether the existing IP system needs to be modified to provide balanced protection for machine created works and inventions, AI itself and the data AI relies on to operate. 

(Photo: Rick_Jo / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Blockchain Technology

The Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS) established a Blockchain Taskforce in 2018 to explore, amongst others, the possibility of using blockchain technology for IP administration, collect information about IPO blockchain initiatives and prepare a proposal for a new WIPO standard applying blockchain technology.


AI in IP administration

In the global innovation economy, demand for IP rights – patents, trademarks, industrial designs and copyright – is rapidly increasing and becoming more complex. AI, big data analytics and new technologies such as blockchain can be used to address the growing challenges facing IP offices.

Read more about frontier technologies

From stories, to reports, news and more, we publish content on the topics most discussed in the field of IP and Frontier Technologies.

(Photo: / Getty Images)

IP is a journey: blockchain and encrypted storage are your best friends

Marco Barulli, founder and Managing Director of in Munich, Germany, argues that digital platforms built around public blockchains and encrypted data storage can provide an effective answer to the daily needs of modern innovators and creatives.

(Photo: anyaberkut / Getty Images)

Trademark Law Playing Catch-up with Artificial Intelligence?

AI has the potential to impact all aspects of how we live and currently is a subject of great debate. Many commentators concentrate on the impact of AI on patent, copyright and design law, but how will it affect the way consumers buy products and services and what knock-on impact will that have on trademark law?

(Preview photo: Courtesy of Uncanny Valley)

Uncanny Valley: charting a new era of musical creativity

Charlton Hill, Co-founder and Head of Innovation at Uncanny Valley, a Sydney-based progressive music technology company discusses the company’s ambitions to speed-up, democratize and re-shape music production through the use of artificial intelligence.