Artificial Intelligence


Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a strategic imperative for our clients. Our clients – regardless of their sector or size – are developing or deploying AI solutions to improve productivity, gain new insights, offer new products and services, and enhance the customer experience.

Why AI is different

AI systems are fundamentally different than their predecessors as they are designed to perceive, learn, reason and make independent decisions in ways that are similar to humans. For AI systems to mimic these aspects of human intelligence, they must access and interpret large volumes of usable data. This decision-making capability, and the reliance on data that is at its core, requires a fresh consideration of legal, ethical and governance issues through an AI lens. For example:

  • Data – ­Most AI solutions require access to large volumes of quality data to achieve their purpose. The data used goes beyond the raw data initially accessed, as the AI solutions themselves continually derive insights and therefore produce additional data that is used to continuously “learn.” In the world of AI, the value and complexity of data as an asset increase significantly. Far more than with previous technologies, the identification and understanding of the data and its origins, and who controls and benefits from data and its derivations, are crucial and potentially contentious questions that are critical to address.
  • Intellectual property (IP) – Can an AI solution be an author and create a work in which copyright exists? Can an AI solution be an inventor of a patentable invention? Is it an infringement of copyright to reproduce a lawfully accessed work for the purposes of information analysis? These are only a few of the many critical IP issues that AI has brought to the forefront, as questions are raised about how to apply a statutory regime developed based on an underlying assumption that humans would be the creators to a world where the creators can be AI systems.
  • Privacy and data protection – AI makes privacy compliance and regulation exponentially more complex. Applying fair information principles – including consent, reasonable purposes and accountability – in the context of AI creates uncertainty and, given the importance of data to AI, potential gating issues to successful research and development.
  • Allocation of risk – Who is liable when an AI solution makes a decision that causes harm? Traditional contractual, civil and criminal liability concepts do not easily lend themselves to an assessment of how to allocate liability for harm caused by an AI system.
  • Ethics and compliance – For AI to be accepted within society, AI systems must be trusted. The basis for decisions made by AI solutions must be understood and must not be biased or discriminatory. Increasingly, legislators will want to regulate harmful uses of AI.

Why Osler?

Hands-on experience and expertise

Osler is widely recognized for having Canada’s leading practices aimed at the industries of the future. Our clients are at the epicentre of change. And so are we. 

Our AI team, made up of lawyers who are leaders in the areas of technology, intellectual property, privacy and data management, and emerging companies, works with clients across the AI ecosystem to help them develop and realize their AI strategies:

Development of AI systems

  • Osler has a large, specialized practice focused on high growth technology companies, and is currently supporting many of the Canadian leaders in AI, including Integrate.AI and Element AI.
  • Osler’s privacy and data management experts are working with the most advanced data and AI companies to establish data governance and de-identification programs that help to unlock the value of data, while complying with the contractual, legal and ethical aspects of AI.
  • Osler’s IP experts are working with clients to implement strategies for protecting the intellectual property that they – and their AI systems – create, and for addressing the infringement risks inherent in machine learning, natural language processing and other AI techniques.

Commercialization and use of AI systems

  • The Osler AI team acts for both vendors and purchasers of AI systems in connection with the drafting and negotiation of agreements for the development, deployment and commercialization of AI solutions. This advice includes the development of unique commercial terms and strategies to address complex issues such as ownership of models, learning algorithms, data ownership and use rights in the context of AI.
  • Osler’s privacy and data management experts are working with stakeholders across the AI ecosystem to establish data governance and de-identification programs that include compliance with the contractual, legal and ethical aspects of AI.
  • Osler’s technology law experts are actively working with many of Canada’s leading financial institutions and their suppliers in connection with the deployment of AI and machine learning in transformative use cases across the FIs’ lines of business.

Thought Leadership: Shaping the Future

We are shaping the future through our participation in numerous public policy consultations and thought-leadership workshops. For example, we are directly or indirectly participating in the Government of Canada’s National Digital and Data Consultations, Transport Canada’s “Car of the Future Advisory Group,” ITAC’s roundtable on cybersecurity with the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, and the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology’s Statutory Review of the Copyright Act. AccessPrivacy, a division of Osler that focuses exclusively on privacy and data management, is leading multi-stakeholder workshops on data governance and de-identification.


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  • Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2016-2019: Band 1, Information Technology.  
  • Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2018-2019: Band 1, Startups & Emerging Companies.
  • Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2017-2019: Band 1, Privacy & Data Protection.
  • "They're a top-notch firm - they deliver sound, practical advice and understand the needs of our business." (Client comment, Chambers Canada)


  • The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, 2015-2018: Technology Transactions.

Legal 500

  • The Legal 500, 2015-2019: Tier 1, Technology.

Best Lawyers

  • The Best Lawyers in Canada, 2018: Osler lawyers recognized in the area of Information Technology.

Who’s Who Legal

  • Who’s Who Legal, 2016-2019: Data Privacy and Protection and Information Technology.