While the reasoning was similar for all three of the patent organizations, the comments released with the judgements differed in a few distinct ways:
- The UKIPO rejected the application because the naming of a machine as inventor (DABUS) does not meet the requirements of the Patent Act, stating that a person must be identified. The agency noted that AI will play an increasing role in the inventive process and the question of inventorship is worth debating for the future.
- The EPO stated that new legislation is required to give AI credit as an inventor, in which a “legal personality” would be established for the AI entity and assigned to a person.
- The USPTO decision didn’t mention any possibilities for the future of AI inventorship, but opened up discussion on the issue through a Federal Registrar Notice.
Yet the use of AI in making discoveries is nothing new. Creative output from computing started in the 1980s, according to a paper published by the Boston Law Review written by Ryan Abbott. Many patents are already granted to inventions made by computers but still use a person’s name as the inventor. Abbott thinks that by allowing computing technology to take credit for new technologies in patents and other IP, more effort will go into creating inventive computing and those new entities will be able to solve some of the most challenging problems of science.
Whether or not creative computing gains the right to be listed as a patent applicant, the growth of AI technologies continues to expand. Our fastest growing technologies report issued in January 2020 shows that patent applications for AI have grown by a compound growth rate of 42% from 2014–2019. AI will clearly play an increasing role in future inventions, whether it can legally be listed as an inventor on a patent application or not.