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Artificial intelligence no longer capable of being the inventor of a patent

The Full Federal Court of Australia has overruled the decision that permitted artificial intelligence (AI) as being the inventor of a patent.

In July 2021, it was held in Stephen Thaler v Comptroller General of Patents Trade Marks and Designs that AI is capable of being named as an inventor of a patent. This was determined by Justice Beach on the objective of the Patents Act 1990 (Cth) to ‘promote economic wellbeing through technological innovation and the transfer and dissemination of technology’. His Honour commented on the fact that there was no specific provision in the law that denied an AI as being an inventor, nor was there a requirement for only humans to apply for patents. Ultimately, his Honour held that an AI can be named as the inventor of a patent application but cannot be the applicant nor grantee of a patent. Although, a person, corporate or otherwise, may file an application for a patent invented by AI.

However, the Full Federal Court has now overturned the decision as an inventor under the Patents Act was interpreted by the Full Federal Court as a natural person. This was determined based on historic readings, statutory language, objectives of the Patents Act, as well as the Patents Regulations which require an inventor’s name to be provided in a patent application. This means that an invention created by an AI system cannot be granted a patent, however, the Court emphasised that this did not mean that the invention created by an AI cannot be patented. As such, the Full Federal Court has aligned this decision with other domestic intellectual property laws, namely copyright, and international perspectives.

As we progress in the development of technology and AI, it will be interesting to see how this decision will influence future intellectual property rights and the patentability of new non-natural technologies.

For the full reading of the case, see here.

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