The England and Wales Court of Appeal this week dismissed a man’s plea to have his AI system recognized as the inventor of two patents.
Stephen Thaler, founder of Imagination Engines, based in the United States, is determined to give intelligent machines the credit he believes they deserve. He swears that a fancy food container and an emergency flashing light are the product of his DABUS neural network model.
Thaler has filed several patents for these designs, each naming DABUS as inventor, in several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Israel and South Africa.
When patent agencies rejected his claims, Thaler took legal action to overturn those decisions. In the UK, the Intellectual Property Office rejected his claims, claiming that only one or more people can be recognized as inventors under national patent law. Thaler appealed to the High Court in London and lost.
In July, he took his case to the Court of Appeal, arguing that he truly believed DABUS was the inventor, which should be enough to satisfy section 13 (2) of the law. This section of the law requires a patent applicant to identify the person or persons whom he believes to be the inventor.
On Tuesday he was shot by judges who upheld those earlier rulings in a 2-1 judgment.
Lord Justice Birss, who wished to accept the appeal, Noted that if Thaler had a “sincere belief” that DABUS was the inventor, and if the Intellectual Property Office had decided not to list such a person on the forms, there would have been no reason to refuse the patent .
“In my opinion, Dr. Thaler fulfilled his legal obligations by s13 (2) (a), said the judge, referring to the section of the Patent Act.
“The fact that no actual inventor can be identified simply means that there is no name that the controller must mention on the patent as the inventor. The controller in these circumstances is not obligated to appoint anyone (or anything). The absence of a named inventor when it is clear why no name was given and the applicant cannot be said to be giving his true belief, is not a basis on which to conclude that the Article 13 (2) was not respected.
He concluded: “Dr. Thaler has complied with his obligations under section 13 (2) of the 1977 Act because he made a statement identifying the person or persons he believes to be the inventor (Article 13 (2) (a)) and indicating the derivation of his right to obtain the patent (s13 (2) (b)). “
Perhaps missing the fact that Thaler didn’t just want designs to be patented, he wanted to set a precedent that software can be a recognized inventor, Lord Justice Birss also suggested, “There’s more than a clue in this case of the idea that if only Dr. Thaler was not so obsessive and, instead of calling DABUS the inventor, he named himself and none of these issues would arise. “
Ultimately, Lord Justice Arnold and Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing disagreed with their colleague and dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the law states that the inventor must be one or more persons. Lord Justice Arnold noted: “Dr Thaler has not identified” the person or persons whom he believes to be the inventor or inventors “as required.”
Only one person can have rights. A machine cannot
“A patent is a statutory right and it can only be granted to one person,” added Lady Justice Liang. “Only one person can have rights. A machine cannot.
Thaler has already said The register: “Humans deny these rights in the first place, being stuck in an age-old paradigm rut in which only wet computers – that is, brains – count. What happens when a very advanced alien civilization visits Earth?
“Does ET deserve the equivalent of human rights? Does it dare to file a patent or copyright protection? So what happens when science does the downloading of consciousness into machines, or that silicon prostheses are inserted into the protoplasmic brain? Would the system deny these people humans These are big questions.
Thaler refused to confirm El Reg Tuesday night whether or not he was going to take the case to the UK Supreme Court.
“While we would of course have preferred the appeal to be allowed, we were very encouraged by Lord Justice Birss’s dissent who agreed with us that” the creator of the inventions in this case was a machine does not prevent patents to be granted to this plaintiff… ‘and he would have allowed the appeal, ”Thaler’s lawyer Ryan Abott told us.
“We respectfully believe that was the correct interpretation of the current state of UK law.” ®