Recently, the British court made a judgment that the artificial intelligence system cannot apply for a patent in the UK as an “inventor”. This decision is regarded as a landmark event in the field of artificial intelligence. Whether artificial intelligence can be an inventor or not is not only a philosophical issue, but also related to the distribution of benefits – should the benefits of the invention produced by artificial intelligence belong to the person who uses it to make the invention, or to the person who creates the artificial intelligence system?
London Court: artificial intelligence cannot be registered as a patent “inventor”
The event originated in 2018. American artificial intelligence expert Stephen Seiler submitted two patent applications to the UK Intellectual Property Office, one is a food container that can change the shape, and the other is a flash lamp. However, Seler’s patent application was rejected. Because he insisted on taking an artificial intelligence neural network called DABUS as the patent inventor, Seler believes that the greatest hero of the two inventions is the artificial intelligence system, not himself.
After the patent application was rejected, sailor sued the British Intellectual Property Office to the court. The court ruled that Seler lost the lawsuit and that AI could not be registered as an “inventor”. According to the British Patent Law promulgated in 1977, the inventor must be a “natural person”.
Later, sailor appealed to the London court. Recently, three judges of the court of Appeal ruled by two votes to one that the intellectual property office should not issue patents to AI. Two judges who support the Intellectual Property Office believe that according to the law, only people can have rights, and machines can’t.
The ruling has attracted attention in Britain. Tiago black of withers & Rogers, an intellectual property law firm, said the result was “in line with expectations”. “Patent rights usually belong to inventors or their successors. If a machine is allowed to be named inventor, the ownership of these rights will be questioned,” he explained.
But he also mentioned that the development of science and technology has complicated the problem. “Given the greater role of machines in the invention process, the current revaluation of inventor standards seems inevitable,” he said.
Involving the rights and interests of artificial intelligence inventors, patent law may change with technology
Two appeals fought for the inventor’s rights for the artificial intelligence system. What is Seler’s purpose? According to British media reports, Seler’s lawsuit is part of a global project, which tries to determine that artificial intelligence systems can be invented and that the owners of such systems can obtain patents for these inventions by applying to patent offices around the world in parallel.
The project has made it clear that it does not claim that the artificial intelligence system has its own patent, but that among the invention patents generated by artificial intelligence, the inventor of artificial intelligence system can obtain the patent right.
Taking saler’s case as an example, saler invented a flash lamp patent using an artificial intelligence system. Does the patent belong to saler or the inventor of the artificial intelligence system? Seler is claiming the latter’s rights.
At present, the project has achieved some success. In South Africa, the local patent office has approved DABUS as an inventor. In Australia, the federal court ruled in July that DABUS could become an inventor.Lawyers said the case was of great significance.
Robert Jehan, saler’s lawyer, said that if the inventions produced by artificial intelligence were not protected by the patent system, it would hinder capital from investing in such technologies in the UK. “It will also induce the owners of such technologies to keep them confidential, which will not help spread new ideas that are crucial to technological development,” he said.
Giles parson, partner of Browne Jacobson law firm, said: “this case raises important philosophical issues and shows that we need to modernize the patent law to deal with artificial intelligence inventions. The patent law is designed for the inventions of the first and second industrial revolutions, and it does not have appropriate measures to meet the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.”
In the United States, one of the world’s most important patent markets, a case this month is similar to that in Britain, which holds that artificial intelligence cannot be an inventor.
Leonie m brinkema, an American judge in charge of the case, wrote after making a ruling: “with the development of technology, artificial intelligence may reach a certain degree of complexity to meet the recognized meaning of inventor. But that time has not yet come. If it does, it may be up to Congress to decide how to expand the scope of patent law.”