AI cannot be an inventor

Updated: May 6, 2020

In a recent decision, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) determined that artificial intelligence cannot be an inventor.

Stephen L. Thaler created an artificial intelligence (AI) system called "DABUS," which generated the invention for which a patent application was filed (US patent application serial No. 16/524,350). DABUS was named as the inventor in the application. The USPTO decided that the machine cannot be named as the inventor.

The USPTO argued that an inventor as referred to in the US patent law must be a natural person and cannot be interpreted so broadly to include a machine. The USPTO suggested that only a natural person can conceive of an invention.

The EPO has come to a similar conclusion. The EPO reasoned that the inventor must be a natural person and stated that this is an internationally applicable standard. EPO went on to comment that the AI system cannot enjoy the legal rights that is associated with an inventor.

Likewise, the UK IPO determined that an inventor must be a natural person. Interestingly, the UK IPO accepts that DABUS created the inventions in the two applications at issue (see, paragraph 15). However, the UK IPO determined that the DABUS cannot have the rights associated with being an inventor, putting the Applicant's right in doubt. In conclusion, the applications are considered to be withdrawn.

With the advancement of AI technology, it appears more and more inventions will be created by AI systems. It will be interesting to see how the law will evolve to deal with issue.

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