Artificial Intelligence: Another Win For DABUS In Patent Law, This Time in Australia

July 30, 2021 | Artificial Intelligence, News
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Australian court says AI can be an inventor.

In an Australian federal court judgement on Friday, Judge Jonathan Beach ruled that Dabus, an AI system, could be recognised under patent law as an inventor, and overturned a February 2021 decision by the Australian Deputy Commissioner of patents that an “inventor” can only be a natural person. (The Guardian)

Judge Beach said: “In my view, an inventor as recognised under the act can be an artificial system or device.”

He therefore returned the matter to the Patent Commission for reconsideration.

University of Surrey Prof Brian Abbott

Prof Abbott, of the University of Surrey, has represented US-based inventor Dr Stephen Thaler in a number of patent applications across the globe that seek to recognise Thaler’s artificial intelligence system known as Dabus (device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience) as the inventor of devices such as an emergency warning light and a kind of food container.

Prof Abbot’s applications were refused by various authorities. These include the UK Intellectual Property Office, and thereafter the High Court in England and Wales. The European Patent Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office also turned Abbott down. Their common objection: Dabus is not a “natural person” and hence cannot be granted the patent, even though it did create the invention.

Creations as creators

In his judgement, Judge Beach drew a fine line between a patent applicant and the entity recognised as the inventor. He ruled that a nonhuman inventor could not apply for a patent; however, Thaler would be the owner of any patents that were granted on inventions by Dabus.

Leaning towards the promotion of innovation, the judge said:

“I need to grapple with the underlying idea, recognising the evolving nature of patentable inventions and their creators. We are both created and create. Why cannot our own creations also create?”

This week, in a global first, South Africa awarded a patent for the invention of the food container that improves grip and heat transfer, and named Dabus as the inventor thereof.

The Australian ruling could have wide-ranging implications for patents in Australia, according to Australian patent attorney, Dr Mark Summerfield. He said the decision would most likely be appealed.

Related Story:  South Africa Recognizes AI As An “Inventor,” Awards Patent

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