Can an AI be an inventor? No, says the EPO

Do you remember the two patent applications filed in the context of the Artificial Inventor Project which named an AI system called DABUS as inventor and which were refused by the EPO?

The EPO has just published the written reasons of the decisions.

As a reminder, in the designation of the inventor filed in both cases, a machine named DABUS was indicated as the sole inventor:

Designation of inventor in EP 18275163.6

In the original designation of the inventor, the applicant indicated that he had acquired the right to the European patent as employer. In a later submission, the applicant filed a corrected designation of the inventor indicating that the he had obtained the right as a successor in title.

The applicant explained that the invention had been made by a machine which “identified the novelty of its own idea before a natural person did”. Therefore, so the applicant, the machine should be recognized as the inventor and the applicant, as the owner of the machine, was an assignee of any IP rights created by this machine.

For both patent applications EP 18 275 163 (EP 3 564 144 – “Food Container”) and EP 18 275 174 (EP 3 563 896 – “Devices and MEthods for Attracting Enhanced Attention”), the Receiving Section of the EPO has decided:

The application is refused in accordance with Article 90(5) EPC since the designation of inventor filed for the application does not meet the requirement of Article 81 and Rule 19 EPC.

In a nutshell, the EPO’s point of view is that the inventor designated in a European patent must be a natural person, and not a machine.

The written reasoning is worth a read and can be found here:

It will be interesting to see whether the applicant will appeal the decisions and take the cases to the Boards of Appeal.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

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