Experts say the patent law should recognize AI as an inventor

Governments around the world should pass an intellectual property law that entitles the AI ​​system, say two academics from the University of New South Wales in Australia. The patent system assumes that the inventors are human. Inventions designed by machines require their own intellectual property law and an international treaty. Alexandra George and Toby Walsh, professors in law and AI at the University of New South Wales in Australia, believe that not recognizing the machine as an invention could have a lasting effect on the economy and society.

If courts and governments rule that inventions created by AI cannot be patented, the effects could be surprising, they wrote in an article published in Nature. Funders and firms will have less incentive to carry out useful research by bringing in AI innovators when their return on investment may be limited. Society may miss the development of valuable and life-saving discoveries.

Current laws only recognize people as inventors, protecting intellectual property rights from patent infringement. Attempts to repeal the Human Center Act have failed. Stephen Thaler, a developer who insisted that AI invented his company’s products, sued trademark offices in several countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, to no avail.

George and Walsh were in favor of Thaler’s position. Creating a tailor-made law and an international agreement will not be easy, but not creating them would be worse. AI science is changing the way things are done and invented. “We need a responsive intellectual property law so that it can benefit the public,” they wrote.

Last year, South Africa issued the world’s first patent, citing the invention of artificial intelligence. Ryan Abbott, a professor at the University of Surrey, has been arguing with patent offices around the world for years about the need to recognize artificial intelligence as an inventor. Dr. Abbott. Represented by Stephen Thaler, creator of a neural network called Dabas, the only inventor of a food container presented by its makers that improves grip and heat transfer.

Professor Ryan Abbott and his team have filed patents since 2018, listing Dabas as an inventor in more than a dozen jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. Last year, the UK and Wales High Courts ruled in favor of the UK Intellectual Property Office in rejecting the claim. Reason: Although Dabus is an inventor, he cannot be patented because he is not a normal person. The European Patent Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office objected for the same reason and the Abbott team appealed.

The team behind the artificial intelligence Dabas believes that South Africa’s decision is justified. We are witnessing a growing use of artificial intelligence in research and development to discover new pharmaceutical compounds and to redirect drugs.

In such cases, an invention may be patentable, but no one can be considered an inventor. In this case, the message behind the denial of a patent for artificial intelligence is a message sent to companies in the sector to stop investing in it, explains the team behind Dabas. In other words, the issuance of this patent is likely to encourage investment in the artificial intelligence sector.

The issuance of this patent also answers the question of who owns the product of an artificial intelligence. In the present case, the owner of the patent in the South African court ruling is the owner of artificial intelligence. In other cases, the issue remains unresolved. In the absence of clear legislation on how to evaluate AI-generated innovations, the patent registry and judges will have to interpret and apply existing laws as best they can. This situation is far from ideal. It would be advisable for the government to enact legislation that is clearly in line with AI’s innovation. Researchers suggest three steps to achieve this goal.

Listen and learn

First, the national government and multilateral entities involved in patent policy (such as the WTO) should conduct a systematic survey of issues, evidence and opinions. They should consult with stakeholders, including patent registration offices, professional bodies representing scientists and engineers, consumer and patient advocacy groups, business development and marketing agencies, and industry professionals. Intellectual Property Act.

Following the example of the European Union and the World Intellectual Property Organization, a number of countries have already begun such preliminary investigations into inventions invented by AI. These investigations must return to the basics and evaluate whether the protection of innovations generated by AI as an IP encourages the production of useful innovations for society, as in the case of other patentable products.

AI system programmers can already get some IP protection through copyright in computer code and patents on the functionality of the software they write. Some people, for political or practical reasons, prefer to leave the results of AI-generated innovations in the public domain, free for all to use. Others called for increased protection of intellectual property
AI Intellectual Property Act

By amending existing legal protections, there is a risk of leaving the gray area. Therefore, it is advisable to enact more complete laws. An ideal solution would be for governments to design a bespoke form of IP (intellectual property), called the Sui Generis Act. These baseless laws are designed to cover the kind of creative production that is not covered by the four major IP doctrines of copyright, industrial design, trademark and patent. They are already encouraging and protecting circuit diagrams, new plant varieties and, in some jurisdictions, investments in databases.

Artificial intelligence and intellectual property

Some critics may object to the spread of IP-specific forms. But, according to researchers, AI has the advantage of having a distinct IP theory that it can adapt to certain conditions of AI creativity. For example, legislators may decide that if AI-PI is easy and fast to develop, it should be secured for a shorter period than the current 20-year standard patent term.

As soon as the patent expires, it will encourage others to rely on innovation. And while patents are usually granted to inventors, legislators may decide to split the AI-produced invention rewards separately, possibly between the developer of AI, the person driving the AI, and the owner of the data used to train it.

International features

Countries that have implemented AI-IP will attract investment in research and development. On the other hand, the royalties associated with the use of an innovation may make it less available. For researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia, the same thing is happening today with drugs and vaccines: patents can attract investments that allow them to grow, but people get lost in countries that can’t or can’t afford the products. Don’t pay royalties for making them.

For example, patent restrictions on the development of COVID-19 vaccines are one reason why, about 18 months after their introduction, about 16% of people in low-income countries have received at least one vaccine. Meanwhile, some high-income countries offer a fourth dose. When designing AI-IP, a balance must be maintained to avoid reproducing such inequalities, ”the study said.

A country that shows a tendency to import innovations may see the advantage of not protecting those generated by AI. In this way he can provide his population with cheap copies of an expensive new drug that an AI has discovered elsewhere, instead of paying royalties. However, it may fail to attract the investment needed to create an industry.

We believe that an international agreement is also essential for AI-produced innovation. It will establish uniform policies to protect AI-produced innovations across multiple jurisdictions. This could be done by negotiating a new agreement or by adding these rules to existing international IP agreements, the researchers say.

Source: University of New South Wales

And you?

In your opinion, should AI systems be considered as patent innovators?

See also:

South Africa has issued the world’s first patent, citing the invention of an artificial intelligence: what are the benefits for companies in the sector? What danger?

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