“I’M HOPING THE READER CAN SEE THAT ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS BETTER UNDERSTOOD AS A BELIEF SYSTEM THAN AS A TECHNOLOGY.”-JARON LANIER
Stephen Tablet, an American computer scientist wants to be granted two patents in the UK over inventions he says were devised by his “creativity machine” called DABUS and urged the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court to decide regarding the same. His attempt to register the patents was refused because it was contended that the inventor must be a human or a company, rather than the machine.
Thaler’s lawyer told the Supreme Court in London that Thaler is “entitled to the rights of the DABUS inventions” because there is no requirement under UK patent law that an invention “must have a human inventor to be patentable”. He further argued that the owner of an AI system is “entitled to inventions generated by the system and to the grant of patents for those inventions if patentable”.
While the lawyers representing the UK’s Intellectual Property Office argued that the appeal should be dismissed and its findings have subsequently been upheld by both the High Court and Court of Appeal in London, albeit on a split basis in the appeal court. Thaler then appealed to the UK Supreme Court, which will have to determine whether the UK Patents Act 1977 requires a natural person – i.e. a human or a company, but not the machine to be named as the inventor in all cases; whether a patent can be granted without a named human inventor; and whether, in the case in the case of an invention made by the AI machine, the owner, creator and user of that AI machine is entitled to the grant of a patent for that invention.
Thaler’s case was scheduled to be heard at the court over a single day on 2 March. A ruling is not anticipated for a number of months. Further, the British government had recently conducted a public consultation on how AI-created inventions should be dealt with under the UK patent system and decided not to change the law.
“Ultimately, for the machine to be named as an inventor of a patent, patent laws will need to be amended,” London-based patent lawyer Mark Marfé (not involved in the case).
It was also observed that attempts at similar applications made by the said scientist in the European Union, the United States, Australia and Germany have been refused, though his application to register DABUS as an inventor was allowed in South Africa.