The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that AI software cannot be a registered inventor of a US patent, Reuters reports, though the issue could be subject to further appeal.
The legal challenge came from Dr. Stephen Thaler, who filed two patent applications naming an AI program called “DABUS” as the inventor in 2019. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied the patents, and the District Court agreed with that finding after an appeal. Thaler appealed again in August 2022 over whether an AI can qualify as an “inventor” under US patent law. In response, the court ruled that an inventor must be a “natural person.”
The key rationale for the recent denial stems from the definition of “inventor” in the Patent Act, which states the inventor must be an “individual.” The Court of Appeals cited the Supreme Court as defining an “individual” as a human being, according to Reuters. That rules out machines, animals, and software such as Thaler’s “DABUS” as being defined as the inventor of a US patent.