At a summary judgment hearing in the case, Judge Brinkema stated that Plaintiff Thaler has “a huge uphill battle . . . because the statutory language [of the Patent Act] is so crystal clear” that an “inventor” must be living “individual”, and not a machine. Judge Brinkema further stated that it is the job of legislatures, not the courts, to address such issues as technology rapidly advances; “Courts are not legislatures . . . and I think ultimately what you’re asking this court to do is legislate.”
The potential effects a ruling in favor of Thaler would have on other areas of patent law also arose at the hearing in the context of patent assignments. Specifically, Judge Brinkema questioned how an AI system could assign rights in an invention to which it is named when the assigning party must have intent to assign the rights.
While it remains to be seen how Judge Brinkema will rule, it is likely that the ball will be kicked over to Congress to determine how to handle inventorship by AI systems. Given the tremendous leaps forward that AI has made in the past decade alone, this issue is likely to continue until changes are made to the Patent Act.
Authored by Celine Crowson and David Brzozowski