UK decides AI still cannot patent inventions

Image credit: BBC

Artificial intelligence systems cannot currently be patented, according to the UK’s Intellectual Property Office. A patent identifies the owner of a new invention.

According to a recent IPO consultation, many experts believe that AI is currently capable of innovating without the assistance of humans.

The following reasons were given by the Court of Appeal in its decision to deny Stephen Thaler’s plea to have his Dabus AI system recognised as the inventor in two patent applications last year:

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office has ruled that, for the time being, artificial intelligence systems cannot be the subject of patents.

The proprietor of innovation is designated by a patent.

Many experts disagreed that AI is currently capable of inventing without human support, according to a recent IPO consultation.

Last year, the Court of Appeal rejected Stephen Thaler’s request that his Dabus AI system is acknowledged as the inventor in two patent applications for the following reasons:

  • A food container
  • A flashing light

By a two-to-one margin, the judges agreed with the IPO, which had instructed him to designate an actual person as the inventor.

However, the IPO also stated that to keep the UK competitive, it would “need to understand how our IP system should safeguard AI-devised ideas in the future” and pledged to advance international negotiations.

An Australian court ruled in July 2021 that AI systems might be recognised as inventors for patent purposes in a case that was also brought by Mr Thaler.

A similar decision had been made a few days earlier in South Africa.

Large volumes of data that have been copied from the internet are used to train many AI systems.

To “encourage the use of AI technology and wider “data mining” techniques for the public good,” the IPO also revealed proposals on Tuesday to modify the copyright law to permit anybody with legitimate access to do this, rather than just those undertaking non-commercial research, as is currently the case.

Although they will no longer charge extra for the opportunity to mine their works, rights holders will still be allowed to govern and set prices for access to them.

The IPO observed in the consultation that the UK was one of just a few nations to protect computer-generated works without a human author.

The performing-arts organisation Equity had advocated for changes to copyright law to safeguard actors’ livelihoods against AI content like “deep fakes,” which are produced using photos of their faces or voice.

The IPO stated that it took this matter seriously, but added that “at this point, it is unknown how AI technologies may affect performers.”

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