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Artificial Intelligence Eases Trademark Image Searches

The World Intellectual Property Organization said on the first of April that it had launched a new artificial intelligence-powered image search technology, making it faster and easier to establish the distinctiveness of a trademark in a target market.

Earlier-generation image search tools primarily determined trademark image similarity by identifying shapes and colors in marks, WIPO said in a statement.

WIPO's new AI-based technology improves on this technology by using deep machine learning to identify combinations of concepts - such as an apple, eagle, tree, crown, car or star - within an image to find similar marks previously registered.

"In the field of trademarks, our state-of-the-art AI technology is a major improvement that will create greater certainty for the development of new image marks and greater ease for monitoring potentially misleading or conflicting new registrations," said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

"This kind of enhanced business intelligence is invaluable in a globalized economy in which the volume of economic agents seeking brand protection is expanding rapidly."

A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights.

The new technology results in a narrower and more precise group of potentially similar marks, facilitating greater certainty in strategic planning for brand expansion into new markets.

With fewer results to scrutinize, this also results in labor cost savings for trademark examiners, attorneys and paralegals, industry practitioners and researchers.

WIPO's new AI search technology leverages deep neural networks and figurative elements classification data from the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks and large trademark offices.

All users can access the AI search technology for free through WIPO's Global Brand Database, where it is fully integrated into the database search engine, WIPO said.

The new search functionality covers the national collections of 45 trademark offices already participating in the project - even if they have not been using a classification system for figurative elements.

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