Tracing the origins of US patent law, Thomas Jefferson stated that an "inventor ought to be allowed a right to the benefit of his invention for some certain time" to encourage "men to pursue ideas which may produce utility." Consistently, under US patent law, an invention requires conception, which is "the formation in the mind of the inventor, of a definite and permanent idea of the complete and operative invention," where the "inventor" refers to an "individual." The Federal Circuit explained that to "perform this mental act, inventors must be natural persons and cannot be corporations or sovereigns." The remainder of the Patent Act is also replete with references to human actions. When the Patent Act was put in place, there was likely no need to characterize the inventive process as being performed by anything other than people, because there were no such other "beings".
ARMONK, N.Y. - 09 Jan 2017: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it broke the U.S. patent record with 8,088 patents granted to its inventors in 2016, marking the 24th consecutive year of innovation leadership. IBM's 2016 patent output covers a diverse range of inventions in artificial intelligence and cognitive computing, cognitive health, cloud, cybersecurity and other strategic growth areas for the company. "Leading the world in innovation for 24 years in a row is a result of IBM's unmatched commitment to innovation and R&D–reflected in this year's new U.S. patent record, breaking the 8,000 barrier for the first time," said Ginni Rometty, IBM's chairman, president and CEO. "We are deeply proud of our inventors' unique contributions to discovery, science and technology that are driving progress across business and society and opening the new era of cognitive business." More than 8,500 IBM inventors residing in 47 states and territories and 47 countries are responsible for IBM's record-setting 2016 patent tally.
It is widely believed that breakthrough innovation is more likely to be achieved by teams. Research has found that teams generally outperform individuals when attempting to create impactful innovations such as highly cited technological patents or scientific publications. However, our research has uncovered a factor that plays a key role in determining whether team outcomes will be superior to those of lone inventors: the structure of the invention -- that is, the extent to which the invention can be broken down into separate components or "modules." We analyzed 1,603,970 utility patents (awarded for innovation in function, such as for a product, process, or machine) and 198,265 design patents (innovation in form, such as a distinct visual configuration or ornamentation of a product), filed between 1985 and 2009 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. We tallied the number of "breakthrough" inventions, defined as those whose number of citations is within the top 5% of its product class.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently ruled that only flesh and blood humans can be granted patents, not artificial intelligence beings, thus ensuring that a Skynet scenario will play out (you didn't think I'd talk about AI without a Skynet reference, did you? Not it faces a lawsuit over its decision. What set this in motion is the filing of two patent applications in July of last year by Stephen Thaler, a physicist and AI researcher, on behalf of an AI "creative engine" called DABUS. One of the patents relates to an adjustable food container and the other one has to do with an emergency flashlight. On both applications, Thaler listed DABUS as the inventor.
Inventions in AI, cloud and cyber security saw IBM best the likes of Samsung and Google to take the top patent spot in 2016. Pushes in AI, cognitive computing, cloud and cyber security saw IBM notch up 8,088 US patents, which works out to 22 patents per day in 2016. Setting a US patent record, IBM researchers, engineers, and designers generated more than 1,100 inventions in the cognitive computing space alone, with patents granted for inventions that help machines learn, reason, and efficiently process diverse data types while interacting with people in natural and familiar ways. Patent #9,384,661 saw IBM inventors develop a method of planning a trip route based on the state of travellers that affects driving risk the most: their state-of-mind. Had a long day or easily overwhelmed?