Artificial Intelligence: US Judge Rules DABUS, An AI Machine, Cannot Be An Inventor On A Patent

September 7, 2021 | Artificial Intelligence, News
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That’s because AI is not a “natural person.”

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled last week that an AI machine cannot be listed as an inventor on a patent. The landmark decision, the first in the US, was issued in a suit filed by Stephen Thaler against the United States Patent and Trademark Office for failing to recognize DABUS, an AI machine as the inventor of two devices in their patents. (Bloomberg)

The devices were a new kind of flashing light and a beverage container.

DABUS: Only an “individual” to be recognized as inventor

According to Judge Brinkema, an individual is a natural person as per both dictionary and legal definitions; moreover, an individual is required to take an oath that they are the inventor named in the patent application.

In a previous case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the nation’s top patent court, refused to recognize a corporation as an inventor.

Citing this case Judge Brinkema said: “The unequivocal statements from the Federal Circuit that ‘inventors much be natural persons’ and ‘only natural persons can be inventors’ supports the plain meaning of ‘individual’ in the Patent Act.”

Since an AI machine, in this case DABUS, is not a natural person, it cannot be deemed to be an inventor, the Judge reasoned.

US decision differs from South Africa and Australia

Stephen Thaler is a part of the Artificial Inventor Project, which is seeking to establish globally that AI should be listed as an inventor in a patent. Law professor Ryan Abbott oversees the Project and has secured favorable rulings from South African and Australian courts on DABUS.

However, the Project has lost in the UK, the EU, and now, in the US.

“We respectfully disagree with the judgment and plan to appeal it,” Abbott wrote in an email to Bloomberg. “We believe listing an AI as an inventor is consistent with both the language and purpose of the Patent Act.”

Related Story: Another Win For DABUS In Patent Law, This Time in Australia

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