UK Supreme Court Holds AI is Not Eligible for Patent Inventorship

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that Artificial Intelligence (AI) cannot be registered as a patent inventor, establishing that every inventor must be a “real” person. This decision concludes prolonged legal proceedings that started in 2019 when the UK Intellectual Property Office informed Dr. Stephen Thaler that under the patent law of the UK, only a natural person or company could be registered as inventors, not software. The UK Supreme Court’s decision now upends Thaler’s appeal of the denial of his requests to register patents for inventions created by his AI software, “DABUS”.

The crux of the issue was whether an AI system could be considered an inventor under the British Patent Act of 1977. The Supreme Court ruled that the term “inventor” in the patent law refers exclusively to a natural person, not a machine. The right to apply for a patent is a statutory right that can only be granted to a natural person. Any other interpretation in support of Thaler’s claims would require amending the 1977 law.

However, the Supreme Court noted that Thaler’s insistence on DABUS being the inventor was a critical flaw. Had Thaler claimed that he was the inventor using DABUS merely as a tool, the legal outcome might have been different, recognizing the fundamental legitimacy of using AI tools in the innovation process.

The UK Supreme Court’s ruling, confirming that AI cannot be recognized as an inventor under existing patent law, adds to Dr. Stephen Thaler’s series of global setbacks in attempting to register his AI, DABUS, as a patent inventor. This decision, which emphasizes the requirement for a human inventorship, is consistent with similar denials of Dr. Thaler’s applications in the European Union, South Africa, Australia, Israel, and the U.S. Thaler also encountered challenges in his attempts to register copyright for AI-created works, with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Click here to read the UK Supreme Court’s ruling.