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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ruivivar

AI Inventorship Denied: UK Supreme Court's Landmark Verdict

📸 ModelProp / Midjourney

In a landmark case, the UK Supreme Court has ruled that artificial intelligence systems cannot be classified as 'inventors' for patent rights.

This verdict emerged from a case involving U.S. computer scientist, Stephen Thaler, who sought to register patents for inventions created by his AI system, DABUS.

The UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) initially rejected Thaler's application, stating that an inventor must be a human or a company. The Supreme Court upheld this decision, specifying that an inventor must be a 'natural person' under UK patent law.

Thaler's legal team expressed disappointment, arguing that the ruling shows UK patent law is currently unsuitable for protecting inventions generated autonomously by AI machines. This, they argue, leaves industries relying on AI for new technologies unsupported.

However, the IPO welcomed the decision, acknowledging the need for ongoing review of how intellectual property law handles creations by AI. The ruling aligns with similar decisions by courts in Europe, Australia, and the U.S., providing certainty that inventors must be natural persons.

Despite the ruling, experts note that it does not prevent a person using AI to devise an invention from applying for a patent, as long as that person is identified as the inventor. This follows a separate case where London's High Court ruled that artificial neural networks can attract patent protection under UK law.

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