With time, Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems is becoming more sophisticated resulting in questions as to whether an AI system can be an inventor. AI systems may or may not be capable of creative thinking leading to new inventions but in patent systems across the world, the answer to the question above at this moment of time seems to be a resounding “NO”.
USPTO’s decision on a recent petition states that under current U.S. patent laws, only “Natural Persons” can be named as an inventor in a patent application. The petition decision was based on the case as Dr. Stephen Thaler applied for a patent on “Devices and Methods for Attracting Enhanced Attention” invented by AI system “DABUS” that is created by him. However, he himself did not invent the invention of this patent application.
Thaler argued that DABUS was a “creativity machine” with a series of neural networks trained with information from multiple knowledge domains to independently create an invention. As per Thaler, DABUS recognized the novelty and salience of the invention of the patent application. However, USPTO rejected the patent application as DABUS could not be an inventor.
On the similar grounds as USPTO, European Patent Office (EPO) and United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) have rejected the patent applications allegedly invented by DABUS. As of now, the legal reasoning behind these patent decisions appears to be sound.
The question of inventorship by an AI system that seem settled for now will no doubt be raised again in the future. Without legislative amendments if patent laws of different jurisdictions, it is highly unlikely that AI systems will qualify as valid inventors of a patent application.