In South Africa and Australia, an artificial intelligence has been granted inventor status for the first time under a patent application. The AI in question is capable of generating new ideas, even complete inventions.
A “creative engine”
Man no longer has the monopoly of inventions within the legal framework. Following a ruling by the Federal Court of Australia published on July 30, 2021, an artificial intelligence (AI) granted inventor status in the context of a patent application. However, the development of this invention is the work of researcher Stephen Thaler.
The story took shape at the end of 2019. As part of the Artificial Inventor Project, Ryan Abbot launched two patent applications. This law professor from the University of Surrey (UK) has developed a food container and an emergency beacon. However, these works integrate both the law and artificial intelligence.
However, Ryan Abbot submitted these technologies on behalf of DABUS, which the interested party describes as: “creative engine”as The Register explains in an article dated August 2, 2021. It has developed an artificial intelligence able to generate new ideas and at best complete inventions.
In the beginning, the Artificial Inventor Project struggles with US law problems. The latter specifies that only natural persons can receive the status of inventor. Ryan Abbot is also facing denials in the UK and the European Union for similar requests. However, the South African authorities are the first to paternity attribute from the food container to the artificial intelligence of DABUS. The Federal Court of Australia quickly followed suit, after some hesitation.
Judge Jonathan Beach delivered his verdict, saying: “We have to get used to this underlying idea, to recognize the evolving nature of patentable inventions and their creators. We are both created and creators. Why couldn’t our creations create in turn? »
A questioning decision
Australian lawyer Mark Summerfield strongly criticized the judge’s decision. The main argument lies in the possibility that: poor quality patents arise in the future. He also pointed to the possibility that this could lead to such a wave of patents that any innovation would then become impossible. This opinion is, of course, permissible, but there is no precedent, so there is no evidence of the occurrence of this type of abuse.
In any case, the decision by the Australian and South African authorities really raises questions. Unsurprisingly, these questions concern both intellectual property and the creative process, from the moment an AI is identified as an inventor. However, the judgment is a first step towards redefining the state of AI when it comes to inventions.