UK Supreme Court Rules AI Systems Cannot Receive Patents on Their Creations

The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court has ruled that AI cannot be named as the inventor for a patent and thus, won’t be able to hold patent rights. The ruling comes in response to a case argued by British scientist Stephen Thaler, who had requested two patents for inventions spawned by his AI “creativity machine,” A Device for Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience known as DABUS.

Thaler sought to patent a food container capable of quickly reheating through the use of fractal geometry and a light system designed to flash in order to attract attention in the event of an emergency. The scientist credits DABUS as the inventor of both products.

He first attempted to file the patents in 2018, however, his request was denied by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on account of DABUS not being an actual person. Thaler appealed the case with the UK Supreme Court but was struck down on Wednesday via a unanimous decision that patent law in the country rules “an inventor must be a natural person.”

Judge David Kitchin added that the court was “not concerned with the broader question whether technical advances generated by machines acting autonomously and powered by AI should be patentable.”

Nonetheless, the case brings up the inevitable question of how patent law should address creations made by AI. Thaler had previously brought up the issue in the US but the Supreme Court denied to hear his case.
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