US Court: AI Cannot Be Listed As Inventor On Patents, Only Humans

Artificial intelligence (AI) cannot be listed as an “inventor” for the purposes of obtaining a patent in the United States, as established by the Federal Circuit decision in Thaler v. Vidal

This decision aligns with the current interpretation of U.S. patent law, which requires that an inventor be a natural person

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued guidance stating that while AI can assist in the development of inventions, only human beings can be named as inventors on U.S. patents

The case of Thaler v. Vidal involved Stephen Thaler, who attempted to file patent applications with an AI system named DABUS (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience) credited as the inventor. The USPTO rejected these applications, and the Federal Circuit upheld this decision, confirming that under U.S. law, AI cannot be an inventor

Despite this, AI-related inventions themselves are patentable under U.S. patent law, provided they meet the standard criteria of non-obviousness, utility, and patent eligibility

The USPTO has a long history of granting patents for AI-based inventions, as long as the applications are attributed to human inventors

The USPTO’s recent guidance clarifies that patents can cover AI-assisted inventions when a natural person has made a “significant contribution” to the invention. This guidance emphasizes the importance of human ingenuity and investment in AI-assisted inventions while ensuring that innovation is not unnecessarily restricted

Internationally, similar decisions have been made, with courts in the UK and other jurisdictions also ruling that AI cannot be named as an inventor on patent applications

These decisions reflect a broader consensus that existing patent laws are not equipped to handle AI-generated inventions and that new policies may be needed to address this issue

In summary, while AI cannot be listed as an inventor, AI-related inventions are patentable as long as they are attributed to human inventors, and the human contributors have made significant contributions to the invention

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