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Florida Intellectual Property Attorney > Blog > Trademark Copyright Infringement > Federal Judge: Thomson Reuters AI Copyright Lawsuit Must Go to Trial

Federal Judge: Thomson Reuters AI Copyright Lawsuit Must Go to Trial


According to reporting from Reuters, a federal judge has ruled that the Thomson Reuters artificial intelligence (AI) copyright infringement lawsuit must go to trial. It is a case that could have significant implications for the future of large language models (LLMs). In this article, our Florida copyright infringement attorney provides an overview of the dispute, the standard of infringement, and the potential legal implications.

Allegations: Ross Intelligence Used Copyright-Protected Content to Train its AI 

Thomson Reuters owns and operates Westlaw—a massive legal research database. In 2020, the company filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against another firm called Ross Intelligence. Thomson Reuters alleges that Ross Intelligence misused thousands of Westlaw’s “headnotes” to train its AI-based legal search engine. Among other things, Thomson Reuters contends that the training used by Ross Intelligence is a form of copyright infringement. Notably, both parties have sought pretrial victories in the copyright infringement lawsuit. However, neither the plaintiff nor the defendant obtained a pre-trial victory in this copyright infringement case.

Federal Judge: The Copyright Dispute is an Issue for the Jury

 Upon review, a federal judge in Delaware announced that a jury must determine whether or not Ross Intelligence engaged in copyright infringement by using content from the Westlaw legal-research platform to train a competing AI-based platform. There are outstanding questions of fact that are appropriate for a jury.

The decision was made by United States Circuit Court Judge Stephanos Bibas. In his opinion declining to dismiss the lawsuit, Judge Bibas highlighted factors in the fair-use analysis favoring each party and expressed uncertainty on whether Ross Intelligence actually transformed the Westlaw content, which is a crucial question in any fair use copyright case.

The Case Could Have Major Implications for the Future of Large Language Models (LLMs) 

Over the last 12 months, large language models (LLMs) and related AI technologies have been used by several companies, including OpenAI and Google. For the most part, these models were trained on data on the internet. A significant share of the training data was likely copyright-protected.

There are still serious outstanding legal questions about the role of copyright law in AI training. The Thomson Reuters lawsuit against Ross Intelligence—as well as other ongoing copyright infringement cases—will have major implications for the future of LLMs.

The Thomson Reuters copyright case matters because it is likely to be one of the trials concerning unauthorized data use to train AI systems. Notably, other tech companies, including Meta and Microsoft, are currently facing similar copyright infringement lawsuits.

 Get Help from a Copyright Attorney in South Florida

At Perkins Law, our Florida intellectual property lawyer has extensive experience handling copyright law matters. We are devoted to protecting the best interests of our clients. If you have any questions or concerns about copyright infringement, please do not hesitate to contact us today. From our main office in Boca Raton, we handle copyright infringement cases throughout Florida, including in Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County.



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