Quite recently, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has ruled that Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems can’t get the credit of a legal inventor in a patent filing. The ruling has come as a response to two Patent Applications filed corresponding to a flashing light and food container, which were created by an AI-based system known as DABUS.
The USPTO has presented a lot of arguments concerning the same. The first and foremost argument corresponds to the Patent Law in the US, which repeatedly refers to the patent inventors or innovators by using humanlike pronouns like ‘himself’ and ‘herself’ and terms like ‘whoever.’ The team that filed the patent applications had argued by saying that the patent law’s references to an inventor as an ‘individual’ could very well be applied to machines too. However, the USPTO stated that in this context, the interpretation is way too broad, and under the current patent law, only natural persons may be termed as the inventor in a patent application.
The patent applications were filed and submitted by the team of Artificial Inventor Project in 2019. Along with filing the patent applications with the USPTO, the team also filed the same with the European Patent Office (EPO) and the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The EPO and IPO have already ruled that DABUS, created by Stephen Thaler (a researcher in AI), can’t be named as a patent inventor based on similar legal interpretations.
Last year in November, the USPTO had even asked for public opinion on this matter.
The team of the Artificial Inventor Project has never said that an AI-based system should own a patent; it just wants the same to be listed as a patent inventor. The team has also stated that an individual could be termed as a patent inventor only if there are a lot of employees contributing the code to develop a system or a technology, which is the case with IBM’s Watson supercomputer. However, the team fears that it would be exceedingly impossible to patent an invention if no human being is involved closely with the same to claim the credit. It also argued by saying that AI-based systems, if allowed to be listed as a patent inventor, would offer incentives to the innovations as well because of the value they add. The team further said that recognizing the value, which such systems add to a creative process, would indeed make the system itself more valuable inevitably.
Without any second thoughts, AI-based systems are most likely to be seen as an inventing tool only instead of an inventor, until the patent law changes in the coming future.