- AI systems can't legally be considered inventors on patents, the US Trademark and Patent Office announced Monday, as first reported by The Verge.
- A group of patent lawyers had argued that a "creativity machine," called DABUS, should be listed as an inventor on patents for a shape-changing drink container and a flashing light that mimics brain activity.
- But the patent office disagreed, determining that under current law, "only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application."
- Patent authorities in the UK and Europe previously been rejected applications from the group.
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Artificial intelligence systems cannot legally be credited as inventors on patent applications, the US Trademark and Patent Office (USTPO) said in a ruling Monday that was first reported by The Verge.
"USPTO regulations and rules limit inventorship to natural persons," the agency wrote in its decision to reject a petition arguing that two patents should list an AI system called DABUS as an inventor.
DABUS, a creation of Missouri-based AI expert Dr. Stephen Thaler, was fed a wealth of information including abstract concepts related to design, practicality, color, and emotion. Afterward, the AI program designed two original inventions.
The first is a fractal drink container that can change shapes, making it easier for prosthetic or robotic hands to grip. The second is a flickering light that mimics brain activity — or "neural flame," as Thaler dubbed it — that could potentially be more effective at catching a person's attention in an emergency situation.
The Artificial Inventor Project, an international group of legal experts that filed the patents, has previously filed similar applications across the world in an attempt to convince patent authorities to recognize AI systems as inventors, arguing that current laws are outdated and fail to account for machines' creative output.
So far, the group has been unsuccessful. Earlier this year, the UK's Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office both rejected patent applications submitted by Artificial Inventor Project for the drink container and flickering light designed by DABUS. The group has also filed applications in Israel, Taiwan, and Germany, and is recruiting patent lawyers around the world to join its efforts.
Martin Coulter contributed reporting to this story.