Artificial Intelligence: AI Cannot Be an Inventor, Says USPTO

.The decision by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) confirms the same view by the European Patent Office. Only natural persons can be inventors.

The USPTO has unequivocally confirmed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) cannot be an inventor. The USPTO’s decision, published on April 27, is in line with similar decisions from the European Patent Office (EPO) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO). (Intepat)


In July 2019, Stephen Thaler filed a patent application for an invention by inventor “DABUS.”  The inventor’s family name was “Invention generated by artificial intelligence.”

The application “Devices and Methods for Attracting Enhanced Attention (DABUS)” is number 16/524,350.

The inventor designated in the application – DABUS – is actually a series of neural networks that operate as a creativity machine.

The USPTO, through a Notice to File Missing Parts, directed Thaler to identify each inventor by his or her legal name.

Thaler asserted in his reply petition that he had correctly detailed the inventorship. However, the USPTO rejected the petition.

The applicant thereafter requested the USPTO to reconsider its stand.

The USPTO has again dismissed this application, confirming that AI cannot be deemed an inventor.


The main planks of the USPTO’s arguments are:

  • Title 35 of the US Code refers to inventors as “natural persons”
  • The law makes references such as “whoever,” “himself,” and “herself,” clearly displaying the law’s intent to cover only natural persons in its intent
  • Further, the inventor who executes an oath or declaration must be a “person.”
  • Therefore, including machines within the definition of “inventor” would contradict the reading of the patent statute
  • In the case of Utah v. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft Zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e.V., the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit the court held that only natural persons could be inventors
  • It ruled that a state, corporation, or sovereign could not be an inventor.


The European Patent Office similarly denied two applications, also filed by an AI system called DABUS.

The EPO considered much the same issues. In its dismissal, the EPO said, “AI systems or machines have at present no rights because they have no legal personality comparable to natural or legal persons.”

A legal person, such as a corporation, is a creature of law, and because no legislative or court issued law categorizes AI as a legal person, AI cannot be an inventor.

Related Story:   Artificial Intelligence: Can AI Predict a Child’s Future? No, it Can’t.                                                

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