The U.S. Federal Circuit has ruled that creations of AI systems cannot obtain invention patents. While you may be wondering why these systems can not obtain patents, the court has a good reason. According to the court, artificial intelligence systems cannot obtain invention patents because they are not humans. According to reports, the U.S. Federal Circuit recently ruled that the inventions of artificial intelligence software tools developed by computer scientist Stephen Thaler cannot be copyrighted and patented.
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In 2019, Thaler failed to apply for copyright on some creations of AI systems. He calls the image “Creation Machine,” and the U.S. Copyright Office upheld the decision on appeal in 2022. The U.S. Patent Office also ruled in 2020 that Thaler’s artificial intelligence system DABUS could not be a legitimate inventor because it was not a “natural person,” a ruling that was subsequently upheld by a judge in 2021. Now, the Federal Circuit has reaffirmed the ruling.
Only humans can hold patents
Judge Leonard P. Stark wrote in the court opinion that the US Patent Law clearly states that only humans can hold patents. The Act refers to the patent holder as an “individual,” a term that the Supreme Court has ruled “usually means a human being, a person” (following “how we use the word in everyday language”); and uses personal pronouns throughout— “She” and “him”, not terms like “itself”.
The ruling confirms the current state of U.S. AI patent law and supports a growing body of international legal opinion. Recall that both the European Patent Office and the High Court of Australia have had similar rulings in recent years. According to BloombergLaw, Thaler plans to appeal the circuit court ruling. Furthermore, his lawyers are criticizing the court’s “narrow and textualist reading” of the patent law. The lawyers claim that “doing so ignores the purpose of the patent law, and the artificial. Furthermore, they believe that this is a “verdict with real negative social consequences.”