Recently a group out of the University of Surrey provided a new challenge to the definition of inventor, asking “
who what may be an inventor on a patent?” The group has created an artificial intelligence (AI) named DABUS. Using a first system of networks to generate new ideas, and second system of networks to determine consequences, DABUS invented a beverage container and a flashing device used for search and rescue that are the subjects of patent applications filed in the United States and Europe (which have not yet been published).
Regarding who can be an inventor, the America Invents Act (AIA), 35 U.S.C. § 100(f) defines the term inventor is as: “the individual or, if a joint invention, the individuals collectively who invented or discovered the subject matter of the invention.” Ryan Abbott, the leader of the University of Surrey group, hoping for an Air Bud scenario (a Disney movie about a golden retriever who is able to join a basketball team when it is discovered there is no rule expressly prohibiting dogs from playing in the league) said “In these applications, the AI has functionally fulfilled the conceptual act that forms the basis for inventorship.” The term “individual” allows for a broad interpretation that does not necessarily exclude AI from being credited as an inventor. If an AI can perform the functions required to be an inventor and is not expressly excluded by the definitions in the statutes, why couldn’t an AI be credited as an inventor?
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