AI cannot patent inventions, UK Supreme Court confirms



The UK Supreme Court has affirmed prior rulings by rejecting an attempt to designate an artificial intelligence (AI) as an inventor in a patent application. Dr. Stephen Thaler, a technologist, had sought recognition for his AI named Dabus as the inventor of a food container and a flashing light beacon. However, in 2019, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) rejected this, asserting that only a person could be recognized as an inventor. This decision was subsequently upheld by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The IPO, supported by the courts, argued that patent rights could only be attributed to “persons,” not AIs. In a recent development, five Supreme Court judges have dismissed an attempt to overturn these decisions, stating that “an inventor must be a person,” thereby precluding AIs from being named as inventors to secure patent rights.

It’s important to note that the judgment does not address the question of whether Dabus actually invented the food container and light. Dr. Thaler, who perceives Dabus as a “conscious and sentient form of machine intelligence,” expressed disappointment with the decision, emphasizing the ongoing tension between human and machine intelligence.

The IPO welcomed the Supreme Court’s judgment, considering it a clarification of the law. However, it stated that the government would continue to review this legal area to ensure that the UK patent system supports AI innovation and usage.

Rajvinder Jagdev from the intellectual property litigation firm Powell Gilbert noted that the judgment does not prohibit a person from using AI to devise an invention. In such cases, a patent could still be sought, provided that the person using the AI is identified as the inventor. The judgment implies that the outcome might have been different if this scenario had been the subject of consideration.

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