UK Supreme Court Decision: Only Natural Persons Can Be Patent Inventors, AI Excluded

AI might not impact jobs, however, obtaining patents for inventions created by AI poses a challenge. Dr. Stephen Thaler, the inventor of AI “creativity machine” DABUS, has been trying to get patents for two AI-generated inventions for years. The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court recently rejected his appeal to approve the patents with DABUS listed as the inventor, according to Reuters.

The court’s decision was based on a provision in UK patent law requiring the inventor to be a natural person. Thaler’s lawyers stated that the ruling established the unsuitability of UK patent law for protecting autonomous AI-generated inventions.

Thaler initially attempted to register the patents in 2018 as the owner of the machine that created them. However, the UK’s Intellectual Property Office required him to list a human on the application, leading to the withdrawal of his application. Thaler contested the decision in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, but Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing stated that only a person, not a machine, can have rights.

In addition to the UK, Thaler also submitted the inventions to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which rejected his application. He also sued the US Copyright Office for not awarding him copyright for an AI-generated art piece, but the US District Court of Columbia ruled that human authorship is a requirement for copyright. Despite rejections in the UK and US, Thaler has succeeded in obtaining patents in Australia and South Africa.