The general idea behind patent and copyright law is that whoever creates it or comes up with the idea should be considered as its creator or inventor. However, what if the creator was not human? What if the idea for a product or service or invention was actually created by a computer, like AI?
While we cannot speak to the legal systems in other countries, as far as the USPTO is concerned, no, an AI cannot be legally credited as an inventor. This is based on a submission to the USPTO for a couple of patents – an emergency flashlight and a shape-shifting drink container – which were created by an AI system called DABUS.
The Artificial Inventor Project filed the patent invention on behalf of DABUS’ creator, Stephen Thaler, where they argued that since Thaler himself did not have any expertise in those types of products, he could not have come up with the ideas himself, and thus DABUS should be credited as the inventor of those patents.
However, the USPTO rejected that notion and pointed towards the language currently used in US patent law, where it uses the term “whoever” in reference to inventors, thus making it impossible for DABUS to be considered as the inventor of those patents. The AIP had previously filed for similar requests in the UK and Europe, although based on the current wordings in the law, both bodies have similarly rejected the application on similar legal interpretations of the law.