Judge Says an AI Can’t Be Listed as an Inventor on a Patent because they are not people

U.S. federal judge Leonie Brikema ruled this week that an AI can’t be listed as an inventor on a U.S. patent under current law. The case was brought forward by Stephen Thaler, who is part of the Artificial Inventor Project, an international initiative that argues that an AI should be allowed to be listed as an inventor in a patent (the owner of the AI would legally own the patent).

Thaler sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after it denied his patent applications because he had listed the AI named DABUS as the inventor of a new type of flashing light and a beverage container. In various responses spanning several months, the Patent Office explained to Thaler that a machine does not qualify as an inventor because it is not a person. In fact, the machine is a tool used by people to create inventions, the agency maintained.

Brikema determined that the Patent Office correctly enforced the nation’s patent laws and pointed out that it basically all boils down to the everyday use of language. In the latest revision of the nation’s patent law in 2011, Congress explicitly defined an inventor as an “individual.” The Patent Act also references an inventor using words such as “himself” and herself.”

“By using personal pronouns such as ‘himself or herself’ and the verb ‘believes’ in adjacent terms modifying ‘individual,’ Congress was clearly referencing a natural person,” Brikema said in her ruling, which you can read in full at the Verge. “Because ‘there is a presumption that a given term is used to mean the same thing throughout a statute,’ the term ‘individual’ is presumed to have a persistent meaning throughout the Patent Act.”


“As technology evolves, there may come a time when artificial intelligence reaches a level of sophistication such that might satisfy accepted meanings of inventorship. But that time has not yet arrived, and, if it does, it will be up to Congress to decide how, if it at all, it wants to expand the scope of patent law,” Brikema said.

Source: Judge Says an AI Can’t Be Listed as an Inventor on a Patent

Does that mean gender neutral people can’t be inventors either?

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