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Artificial Intelligence and Patents: Inventing Inventors

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Who are the inventors of patents? Since George Washington signed the first patent in 1790, the United States has issued patents to people of various ages, ethnicities, and genders, with some patent inventors being as young as two when they filed[1]. The varied backgrounds of these inventors stems from the United States Patent and Trademark Office's ("USPTO") broad definition of an inventor, laying out an inventor to "mean[] the individual or, if a joint invention, the individuals collectively who invented or discovered the subject matter the invention."[2] But what happens when the inventor is a machine? This is the exact issue Dr. Stephen Thaler sought to resolve with the USPTO as well as other worldwide patent offices.


Artificial Intelligence can't technically invent things, says patent office

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Artificial intelligence is the future. If "Westworld" or "Black Mirror" are to be believed, there will soon come a day when the computers rule us all. But for now, an AI's power ends at the US Patent Office. The USPTO has denied a pair of patents filed on behalf of DABUS, an artificial intelligence system, and published a ruling that says US patents can only be granted to "natural persons." The two patents were for a food container and a flashlight, and were filed by Stephen Thaler, an AI researcher and DABUS' creator.


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#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence is the future. If "Westworld" or "Black Mirror" are to be believed, there will soon come a day when the computers rule us all. But for now, an AI's power ends at the US Patent Office. The USPTO has denied a pair of patents filed on behalf of DABUS, an artificial intelligence system, and published a ruling that says US patents can only be granted to "natural persons." The two patents were for a food container and a flashlight, and were filed by Stephen Thaler, an AI researcher and DABUS' creator.


Artificial Intelligence can't technically invent things, says patent office

#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence is the future. If "Westworld" or "Black Mirror" are to be believed, there will soon come a day when the computers rule us all. The USPTO has denied a pair of patents filed on behalf of DABUS, an artificial intelligence system, and published a ruling that says US patents can only be granted to "natural persons." The two patents were for a food container and a flashlight, and were filed by Stephen Thaler, an AI researcher and DABUS' creator. According to the filing from the USPTO, Thaler calls DABUS a "creativity machine" and wanted the AI to get full credit for the inventions.


Artificial Intelligence can't technically invent things, says patent office

#artificialintelligence

However, according to the USPTO's ruling, inventions can only be submitted (and depending on how philosophical you want to get, conceived) by a "natural person," as reflected in the language of patent law and also in previous federal court rulings. Speaking of philosophy, the ruling quotes a Federal Circuit court decision from 1994 that expounds on the nature of invention in a way that's certain to send your brain down the maze of reflexive self-awareness. "Conception is the touchstone of inventorship, the completion of the mental part of invention. It is the formation in the mind of the inventor, of a definite and permanent idea of the complete and operative invention ... [Conception] is a mental act ..." Patents that list DABUS as the inventor have also been denied in Europe and the UK for similar reasons related to personhood. The European Patent Office also raised the issue of who, exactly, would enforce the rights granted to an inventor under such a circumstance.