US Patent Office Stands Firm: AI Cannot Be Listed as an Inventor

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has declared that artificial intelligence (AI) systems and other “non-human entities” cannot be named as inventors in patent applications. The agency’s decision comes after a series of public hearings aimed at gathering feedback on the matter, as reported by The Verge.

Disclosure Requirement for AI-Assisted Inventions

According to the latest guidance, individuals utilizing AI tools in the invention process are not disqualified from being considered inventors. However, the USPTO mandates that applicants disclose whether they employed AI in the creation of their patented inventions. This disclosure requirement aligns with the agency’s broader policy of seeking comprehensive information to make informed decisions on patent applications.

Significant Contribution a Prerequisite

Crucially, the agency emphasizes that to qualify for a patent, the individual using AI must have made a substantial contribution to the development of the invention concept. A mere observer who instructs an AI system to create without active involvement does not meet the criteria for inventorship. The USPTO asserts that presenting a problem to an AI system without actively contributing to the solution does not warrant patent eligibility.

Demonstrating Significant Contribution

Highlighting the importance of a “significant contribution,” the USPTO suggests that individuals can demonstrate their role by formulating a problem and guiding the AI system toward a specific solution. The agency underscores the need for active involvement in the creative process for patent eligibility.

Intellectual Dominance Not Sufficient

Furthermore, the USPTO clarifies that merely maintaining “intellectual dominance” over an AI system does not automatically qualify a person as an inventor. This means that supervising or owning AI systems that generate inventions does not grant eligibility for patent applications.

This decision follows the 2020 ruling by the USPTO, which asserted that only “natural humans” can apply for patents. The rejection of researcher Steven Thaler’s petition, where he attempted to list the DABUS AI system as an inventor, was upheld by the court. Additionally, a federal court ruled that AI systems cannot be copyrighted, further solidifying the legal landscape surrounding AI and intellectual property.

As technology and AI continue to evolve, the USPTO’s stance sets a precedent for acknowledging the role of human creativity and contribution in the patent application process.