US says AI models can’t hold patents

An illustrated concept of a digital brain, crossed out.


On Tuesday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published guidance on inventorship for AI-assisted inventions, clarifying that while AI systems can play a role in the creative process, only natural persons (human beings) who make significant contributions to the conception of an invention can be named as inventors. It also rules out using AI models to churn out patent ideas without significant human input.

The USPTO says this position is supported by "the statutes, court decisions, and numerous policy considerations," including the Executive Order on AI issued by President Biden. We've previously covered attempts, which have been repeatedly rejected by US courts, by Dr. Stephen Thaler to have an AI program called "DABUS" named as the inventor on a US patent (a process begun in 2019).

This guidance follows themes previously set by the US Copyright Office (and agreed upon by a judge) that an AI model cannot own a copyright for a piece of media and that substantial human contributions are required for copyright protection.

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