US appeals court says artificial intelligence can’t be patent inventor

An artificial intelligence system cannot be an inventor under United States patent law, a US appeals court confirmed Friday.

The Patent Act requires an “inventor” to be a natural person, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said, rejecting computer scientist Stephen Thaler’s bid for patents on two inventions he said were his The DABUS system has been created.

Thaler said in an email on Friday that DABUS, which stands for “Tool for Autonomous Bootstrapping of Integrated Sentiment,” is “natural and sensitive.”

His attorney Ryan Abbott for Brown Neri Smith & Khan said the decision “ignores the purpose of the Patent Act” and has “real negative social consequences”. They said they plan to appeal.

The US Patent and Trademark Office declined to comment on the decision.

Thaler has made global efforts to obtain a patent for DABUS. They have lost other bids for patents that name DABUS as their inventor in the European Union and Australia.

Both the PTO and the Virginia Court dismissed two Thaler applications for the DABUS patent, which included a drink holder and a light beacon, because the system is not a human.

Thaler challenged Virginia’s decision before the Federal Circuit, which hears patent appeals. Abbott told the Federal Circuit during an oral argument in June that the decision was “contrary to the plain language and purpose of the Patent Act,” which is meant to promote innovation and does not specify that an inventor should be a natural person. Should be.

But “there is no ambiguity: The Patent Act requires that inventors be natural persons; that is, humans,” Circuit Judge Leonard Stark wrote Friday for a unanimous three-judge panel.

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Stark said the Patent Act requires inventors to be “personal.” He referred to the general use of the word “personal” and how it is used in the Patent Act to mean a human being.

“For example, Act uses the personal pronouns — ‘myself’ and ‘myself’ — to refer to a ‘personal,'” Stark said. “It doesn’t even use ‘self,’ which it would have done if Congress had intended to allow non-human inventors.”

Thaler’s argument that patenting an AI system would spur innovation was “speculative,” Stark said. He also dismissed Thaler’s concerns that denying an AI patent would undermine the patent’s purpose as outlined in the US Constitution to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts”.

The case is Thaler v. Vidal, US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 21-2347.

For Thaler: Brown’s Neri Smith and Khan’s Ryan Abbott

To the PTO: Dennis Baraghan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia

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