Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of technology that uses computer science and data science to solve problems. Artificial intelligence today plays a significant role in our daily activities. More and more are using AI for automation or enabling their workforce to achieve more complex goals. One application of AI decision-making is the invention of new products and technologies. Courts and patent offices across the planet are now considering whether AI inventions can be patented.
Can AI inventions be patented?
Patent laws are generally based on the assumption inventors are human. It never gathered for an inventor that is the machine. Courts around the world are still weighing in on the issue of machines being inventors as patent applications naming AI systems as the inventor have been lodged in over 100 countries.
Let's look at AI and patent laws in different jurisdictions:
USA: Under US laws, the computer using AI can't be listed as an inventor on patents because only humans can be an inventor. A federal judge ruled recently that federal law requires an individual to take an oath that he or she is the inventor of a patent application, and both the legal and dictionary definition of an individual "is a natural person. An appeal against this ruling has been lodged.
UK: The UK Court of Appeal recently ruled that AI cannot be the inventor of new patents. The court was ruling in an appeal case lodged by Stephen Thaler, creator of a system called Dabus.
Australia: Advocates of AI inventorship have had some successes in Australia. Although the Australian Patent Office established treating the AI machine as an inventor was inconsistent with the country's patent laws, an Australian federal court later trashed that decision. The court found that an AI system could be acknowledged as an inventor per Australian patent statutes.
South Africa: South Africa's Companies and Intellectual Property Commission recently granted a patent for an AI system-created invention. Ideally, the patent establishes the AI system as the patent inventor.
What are common AI patents being filed?
The following are some of the common AI patent filings:
Transportation energy management
Banking and finance
How does the patent process affect the growth of artificial intelligence?
While patent offices and courts worldwide weigh in on whether AI is eligible for patentability, the consequences of their decisions could be far-reaching. Should courts and governments rule that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, businesses and funders could be less incentivized to use AI inventors to undertake beneficial research bearing in mind a return on their investment is limited. Society will undoubtedly miss out on the creation of crucial life-saving inventions. On the other hand, countries that have robust AI-IP in place would be likely to attract investment in research and development.
Patents recognize and reward inventors for their successful inventions. With a patent, the inventor is assured they will get a return on the time, effort, and money they invested in developing technology.
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