Australia’s federal court has ruled that artificial intelligence systems can be recognized as an inventor. (Image Credit: Timisu/pixabay)
I tried to patent something once. It was super expensive. Ultimately, I ran out of money to continue it. But, during the process, I discovered it could be a mad race to get it down on paper and filed. With the “first to file” law in the USA, you could feel panicked trying to patent anything.
When I read about AI designing and filing patents, I got even more worried about the future. Is there any hope for us individuals with ideas? I know, I know… the question mark suit guy can help you.
A federal court in Australia has ruled that an artificial intelligence system can be recognized as an inventor. This decision was finalized after years of worldwide legal battles by Ryan Abbot, a University of Surrey law professor, who submitted patent applications in 17 countries earlier this year. At the end of 2019, Abbot launched two international patent filings as part of The Artificial Inventor Project. Those two applications sought to classify DABUS, an AI system, as the inventor of an adjustable food container and an emergency warning beacon.
Dr. Stephen Thaler, the creator of DABUS, says DABUS serves as a “creativity engine” that produces new concepts and inventions based on its neural network. However, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected the application, ruling that an AI system can’t be classified as an inventor. At the time, only natural persons could be recognized under the country’s patent law. Shortly after, Thaler filed a lawsuit against the USPTO, with Abbot representing him. The judge handling this case stated that congress would be a better fit to deal with it instead.
Other countries also agreed with the notion that DABUS cannot be classified as an inventor. Earlier this year, Australia rejected the applications, stating that only humans can be named the inventor. That is until justice Jonathon Beach overturned the ruling in Australia’s federal court. As for the new ruling, DABUS cannot be the applicant or granter for a patent, but it can be an inventor. Only DABUS’ creator can be named the applicant and granter.
“In my view, an inventor as recognized under the act can be an artificial intelligence system or device,” Beach stated. “I need to grapple with the underlying idea, [recognizing] the evolving nature of patentable inventions and their creators. We are both created and create. Why cannot our own creations also create?”
Before Australia changed its ruling, South Africa’s Companies and Intellectual Property Commission recognized DABUS as an inventor of the adjustable food container.
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