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AI and Patents: Algorithms Aren’t Inventors

By Dick Weisinger

Inventions and AI have been a subject for debate. Can an AI algorithm that comes up with a novel approach to solving a problem patent that idea? Earlier this year, the US Trademark and Patent Office (USTPO) ruled that the answer is “no”. The European Patent Office (EPO) and UK Intellectural Property Office (UKIPO) came to the same conclusion: only humans are able to be considered the inventor of a patentable invention.

An international group called the Artificial Inventor Project had filed for a number of patents in the hope that the patent office would recognize the inventor as AI.

The reason? AI is not a person, and because of that, has no property rights. But these decisions by the three patent offices were based on existing patent law. For example, the UKIPO left the door open for this to possibly change in the future: “the present system does not cater for such [AI] inventions and it was never anticipated that it would, but times have changed and technology has moved on. It’s right that this is debated more widely and that any changes to the law be considered in the context of such a debate…”

Ryan Abbott, a law and health-sciences professor at the University of Surrey in the UK, said that “if I teach my Ph.D. student that and they go on to make a final complex idea, that doesn’t make me an inventor on their patent, so it shouldn’t with a machine.”

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