DABUS and the dawn of AI inventors: “the topic that patent lawyers should be monitoring”

In a recent Managing IP article, Imogen Ireland and Jason Lohr examined the recent decisions on “DABUS” to show why AI inventors are not just a future problem

In 2018 and 2019, parallel patent applications were filed at the USPTO, EPO and UKIPO by the applicant – and human – Stephen Thaler. Where an applicant might ordinarily complete the details of the inventor, it was instead explained that said inventor was an artificial intelligence (AI) machine called "DABUS" (short for Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience). DABUS was described as "a type of connectionist artificial intelligence". It was also said that DABUS had "identified the novelty of its own idea before a natural person did" and therefore the machine should be recognised as the inventor.

In decisions handed down in 2019 and 2020, all three offices refused the applications. The primary reason for these outcomes concerned the fact that DABUS was a machine, whereas the legal frameworks applied by the EPO, UKIPO and USPTO require the inventor to be a natural person, or human. What is particularly interesting about these decisions is that, until they were given, there was little guidance – or debate – addressing inventorship of inventions made using AI in the US, UK, or Europe as a whole.

The full article takes a deeper look into the EPO, UK and US approaches to this topic and why patent lawyers should be monitoring its evolution. The article can be accessed on Managing IP, here

Authored by Imogen Ireland and Jason Lohr


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