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US Court Rules Artificial Intelligences Can’t Own their Own Intellectual Property

Sun Sep 05 2021

AI systems can’t be named on patents as inventors must be ‘natural persons’ rules a US court

A US federal court has ruled that AI systems cannot ever be listed as an inventor on a patent application nor own Intellectual Property they design as the US Patent Act clearly states a human must be nominated in the ownership field.

The Judge also pointed out changing this could lead to abuse of the system by large corporations.

 

The decision was handed down last week over a case involving two patents.

They were filed by the owner of Imagination Engines Inc. Stephen Thaler for a creativity machine they’ve named DABUS.

DABUS itself is part of a larger group called the Artificial Inventor Project which is run out of the University of Surrey Law by Professor Ryan Abbott.

The Artificial Inventor project are lobbying worldwide for recognition of AI systems in law and enlisted the aid of Thaler to create an AI whose main purpose would be to invent things.

 

So far, they’ve filed patents in seventeen different jurisdictions worldwide (as we’ve previously reported, only Australia and South Africa have found in their favour >>) listing DABUS as the inventor for a beverage container based on fractal geometry called Fractal Container and Neural Flame, a light beacon that flashes in specific ways to attract attention.

 

The US patent office rejected both claims last year on the grounds that only a ‘natural person’ can be listed on the application forcing Thaler to challenge them in federal court, arguing the decision was "arbitrary, capricious, [and] an abuse of direction".

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There is no statute or case that has found an AI-generated invention cannot be patented, or that holds an AI cannot be listed as an inventor. Rather, any discussion of inventors as natural persons has been based on the assumption that only a person could invent, or to prevent corporate and sovereign inventorship at the expense of a human inventor.

Lawyer for Stephen Thaler

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However, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema rejected those claims in her rulings, reasserting that US patent law clearly states an individual must swear an oath on their patent application, and an AI is incapable of doing that.

She also dismissed claims that this ruling would discourage future incentives for the development of AI technology but that even if it did, such incentives are the purview of Congress, not the courts.

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This decision would prohibit protection for AI-generated inventions and it diverges from the findings of the Federal Court of Australia.

Ryan Abbotts legal team

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Sun Sep 05 2021

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