British court rules that artificial intelligence cannot be the “inventor” of patents

by alex

Computer scientist Stephen Thaler was never able to obtain patents for the inventions created by his artificial intelligence system, or as he called it the “creation machine” DABUS.

His earlier attempt to register two patents (for a food container and a lantern) was rejected by the UK Intellectual Property Office – on the grounds that “the inventor must be a person or company, not a machine.” Thaler filed an appeal to the country's Supreme Court, which unanimously rejected it on Wednesday with almost the same wording.

In a written decision, as noted by Reuters, Judge David Kitchin also noted that the case “does not address the broader question of whether technological advances created by machines that operate autonomously and are powered by AI should be patentable.”

Thaler's lawyers said the ruling confirms that UK patent law is “currently completely unsuited to protect inventions created autonomously by AI machines and, as a consequence, wholly inadequate to support any industry that relies on AI to develop new technologies.”

The UK Intellectual Property Office welcomed the decision and the clarification it provides “on the law on patenting the creations of machines with artificial intelligence.”

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At the beginning of the year, Thaler lost a similar bid in the United States, where the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the Patent and Trademark Office's refusal to grant patents for inventions created by an AI system.


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Giles Parsons, a partner at law firm Browne Jacobson who was not involved in the case, said the UK Supreme Court's decision was not a surprise.

“The decision will not have a significant impact on the patent system at this time,” he said. “This is because AIs are now tools, not agents. I expect this to change in the medium term, but we can deal with this problem when it arises.”

In another case last month, the London High Court ruled that artificial neural networks could receive patent protection under UK law.

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