The United Kingdom’s top court has rejected an appeal from a computer scientist who has been trying to get his AI model recognized as the inventor of two new patented products.
In its judgement, the court said computer scientist Dr. Stephen Thaler couldn’t have his AI product — DABUS — recognized as the inventor of a food container and a flashing light beacon.
The Dec. 20 judgementwas reached unanimously and supported earlier decisions made by the U.K. Court of Appeal and U.K. High Court.
The court concluded that a “natural person” must be behind a patent. “DABUS is not a person at all,” the court explained in dismissing Thaler’s appeal.
AI can do a lot of things but can’t own a patent. At least not in the U.K.
In a judgment on today, the UK’s highest court concluded that “an inventor must be a person” in order to apply for patents under the current law.
The ruling comes after technologist Dr Stephen Thaler…
— Suhail Ahmad (@SuhailAhmad) December 20, 2023
Thaler filed two patents in October 2018 and was rejected by the U.K. Intellectual Property Office in August 2019. The computer scientist then filed court proceedings to appeal the decision.
The recurring problem was that he never listed himself as the inventor. Rather, he claimed that he only invented DABUS — which then invented the food container and a flashing light, presumably without assistance.
But the lower U.K. courts relied on the Patent Act 1977 to reject Thaler’s claim.
“Only a person can have rights. A machine cannot,” the Court of Appeals ruled in September 2021. “A patent is a statutory right and it can only be granted to a person.”
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Despite the dismissals, the U.K. Supreme Court stated the current decision doesn’t set a precedent for future cases.
“This is not to impose an additional requirement for patentability,” the U.K. Supreme Court noted. “Nor does it introduce a new ground for refusing patent applications.
Records show that Thaler also attempted to patent DABUS in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. He was rejected in all of those jurisdictions except South Africa, which approved DABUS in July 2021.
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