We have previously written about our involvement in filing and prosecuting patent applications for two inventions created by the AI inventor DABUS, and naming DABUS (the true deviser of the inventions) as the inventor.The UK IPO found the inventions to be both novel and inventive, and therefore, in principle, protectable by patent. However, the two patent applications (GB2574909 and GB2575131) have encountered objections from the UK IPO on the basis that, in its view, only a human may be named as an inventor. We explored some of the issues regarding this here.
Corresponding applications have been filed at WIPO, the EPO, in the USA, Germany, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Israel and India. Similar issues are being or are likely to be addressed in those cases too. It remains to be seen to what extent IPOs in other countries agree with the position taken in the UK.
It is clear that these applications have raised important issues around patent law being able to keep up with progress in technology. It has been suggested that the issue is solved if a human is named as inventor, even if this is factually incorrect. This would be wrong and would open up more issues and disputes over matters such as entitlement and inventor compensation. The DABUS applications are being pursued to open the debate and encourage a p[roper solution to these issues. The underlying laws and systems cannot provide protection for a category of inventions that is likely to be encountered more and more. If these are not changed, companies will be faced with difficult choices - falsify statements on inventorship or be honest and at a disadvantage to those who are not.
The UK IPO has now issued a consultation document calling for views on AI inventorship in patents. This sets out the background, specifically referencing the DABUS patent applications, and seeks views on whether AI being named as inventor is consistent with the aims of a functioning patent system, how this might affect ownership of patents, and whether it could affect assessment of inventive step and/or infringement.
We are pleased to see that the IPO in the UK is taking seriously and exploring the issues that have been raised by these cases, and we are proud to play our part in pushing the boundaries of intellectual property laws in this exciting area.
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