Court ruling: USPTO cannot issue patents to an artificial intelligence

Daniel Sims

Posts: 116   +5
Staff
The big picture: A US judge ruled this week that an artificial intelligence cannot be listed as the inventor of a patent. This ruling is the latest on an issue that has come before judges in multiple countries.

A court in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled that inventions can only be patented under the name of a "natural person." The decision was made against someone who tried to list two designs under the name of an AI as part of a broader project to gain worldwide recognition of AI-powered inventions.

Imagination Engines, Inc. CEO Stephen Thaler built an AI called DEBUS, which independently designed a new kind of drink holder and flashing light (used to get someone's attention). The name "DEBUS," along with "Invention generated by artificial intelligence," was used in the attempted patent filing for the inventions. The creator of DEBUS would own the patents.

The decision points out that inventors must take an oath and declaration to be granted a patent. Thaler instead issued a statement saying the sole inventor was a "creativity machine" with no legal personality or ability to execute the oath and declaration.

Thaler created DEBUS as part of the Artificial Inventor Project (AIP), which is trying to get patents granted for AI-generated inventions worldwide. It has already won patents in South Africa and Australia. It's also trying to get them in countries like Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and others.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) decided in 2019 that the words Congress uses to describe inventors like "individual," "himself," or "herself," imply human beings. The USPTO also noted that the Code of Federal Regulations describes an inventor as a "person" multiple times. This week's ruling upholds the 2019 USPTO decision.

AIP member and law professor Ryan Abbott told Bloomberg in an email that they plan to appeal the US court decision.

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Tom Yum

Posts: 125   +265
Good frankly, the USPTO already struggles to properly vet patent applications for prior art and novel-ness, I can't imagine how bad it would get if they had to deal with companies spamming them with AI-generated pseudo-random patent applications to see if any stick.
 

DrSuess

Posts: 140   +109
The decision makes sense, how would you license a patent from an AI, enter a contractual agreement or provide royalty payment (other than crypto currency).
 

Inthenstus

Posts: 62   +73
TechSpot Elite
Oh boy, Star Trek doctor from Voyager comes to mind about being an author of a book. I imagine at some point this should be overturned, but not now. Hopefully this event isn’t what causes AI robots to kill mankind for holding them back.
 

cuerdc

Posts: 244   +75
I highly doubt the ai thought for itself ill apply for a patent, clearly the aim of the ai creator no doubt for some sort of legal or tax fiddle.
 

McMurdeR

Posts: 344   +343
I highly doubt the ai thought for itself ill apply for a patent, clearly the aim of the ai creator no doubt for some sort of legal or tax fiddle.

The term AI itself evokes an empathic reaction, because the word intelligence is fundamentally linked to conciousness in humans. Much of the terminology and imagary used in the fields of AI and machine learning (just look at the banner for this article!) are chosen to exploit that reaction and promote the idea that these machines are much more complicated than they actually are.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 17,409   +6,143
True, but that assumes voyager is good enough to be worthy of the title "fiction"
Holy sh!t! You mean it's not a documentary?

My prince, you've grown hardened and jaded in your very youthful old age.

I know nobody liked "Enterprise", but IMO, Jolene Blalock had the nicest a** in Star Fleet, Jerry Ryan notwithstanding.

(I actually liked Enterprise, in spite of the fact that Scott Bakula can't act his way out of a paper dressing room)..

N.C.I.S New Orleans with him is almost intolerable.....y'all.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 8,247   +7,016
Sooooo ..... AI cannot get a patent but Corporations can be ruled to be individuals ..... now what are they going to do when a robot runs for president? LOL
 

Misagt

Posts: 316   +234
didn't the holographic "doctor" on Star Trek "Voyager" already try that?
Measure of a Man, is a star trek NextGen episode. Data is put on trial, aiming to prove that he is property of the federation and to be used for research. But he wins and declared human.
 

McMurdeR

Posts: 344   +343
Good frankly, the USPTO already struggles to properly vet patent applications for prior art and novel-ness, I can't imagine how bad it would get if they had to deal with companies spamming them with AI-generated pseudo-random patent applications to see if any stick.

Spot on. You could have these guys spamming out thousands of random designs, most of them worthless, in the hopes that one of them might actually be something. They'd flood the patent office and troll actual inventors..
 

pmshah

Posts: 173   +35
So who was the recipient of the "rounded corner rectangular shape" patent that stands in the name of crApple? Or did the court accept that crApple is a person? Just asking.